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Escalation of relationship conflict into work disengagement: uncovering mediation mechanisms

Hsien-Ta Li (Department of Business Administration, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 2 August 2022

Issue publication date: 6 January 2023

502

Abstract

Purpose

Guided by the job demands-resources model, this study aims to investigate the underlying mediation mechanisms through which vertical relationship conflict between employees and their supervisors and horizontal relationship conflict between employees and their colleagues escalate into work disengagement. It proposes exhaustion and workplace social isolation as the mediators and explores the relative importance of vertical and horizontal relationship conflicts in influencing work disengagement through the distinct impacts of the mediators.

Design/methodology/approach

Data collected from a three-wave study of 181 online-questionnaire respondents are used to test the research model using partial least squares structural equation modeling.

Findings

Vertical relationship conflict has an indirect effect on work disengagement via exhaustion, whereas horizontal relationship conflict has an indirect effect on work disengagement via workplace social isolation. Compared with horizontal relationship conflict, vertical relationship conflict exerts a stronger effect on work disengagement.

Originality/value

This study addresses a void in the literature on relationship conflict by investigating work disengagement from the perspective of both vertical and horizontal relationship conflict as well as from the perspective of both strain- and resource-centric mediators (i.e. exhaustion and workplace social isolation, respectively), providing a comparatively detailed analysis.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This work was substantially supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (grant number: MOST 106-2410-H-006-065-SSS).

Citation

Li, H.-T. (2023), "Escalation of relationship conflict into work disengagement: uncovering mediation mechanisms", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 80-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-05-2021-0071

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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