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Supervisor conflict management climate and emotion recognition skills: Implications for collective employee burnout

Kirsten A. Way (School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Nerina J. Jimmieson (Department of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Prashant Bordia (Department of Management, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 10 January 2020

Issue publication date: 18 June 2020




Groups’ perceptions of their supervisors’ conflict management styles (CMSs) can have important implications for well-being. Rather than being examined in isolation, supervisor CMSs need to be considered in the context of supervisors’ emotional ability and the amount of conflict in workgroups. This paper aims to investigate the three-way interactions between group-level perceptions of supervisor CMSs (collaborating, yielding, forcing), supervisor emotion recognition skills and group relationship conflict in predicting collective employee burnout.


Group-level hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted with 972 teaching professionals nested in 109 groups.


The positive association between supervisor yielding climate and collective employee burnout was evident when supervisor emotion recognition was low but absent when supervisor emotion recognition was high. Groups with high supervisor forcing climate and high supervisor emotion recognition experienced lower group burnout, an effect evident at high but not low relationship conflict.

Practical implications

Supervisors have a critical – and challenging – role to play in managing conflict among group members. The detrimental effects of supervisor yielding and forcing climates on collective employee burnout are moderated by personal (supervisor emotion recognition) and situational (the level of relationship conflict) variables. These findings have practical implications for how supervisors could be trained to handle conflict.


This research challenges traditional notions that supervisor yielding and forcing CMSs are universally detrimental to well-being.



This study was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP0775049) awarded to the second and third authors in collaboration with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.


Way, K.A., Jimmieson, N.J. and Bordia, P. (2020), "Supervisor conflict management climate and emotion recognition skills: Implications for collective employee burnout", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 559-580.



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