Twenty-five years of research in the International Journal of Conflict Management: a strong foundation for discovering novel solutions

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 7 October 2014



Posthuma, R. (2014), "Twenty-five years of research in the International Journal of Conflict Management: a strong foundation for discovering novel solutions", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 25 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Twenty-five years of research in the International Journal of Conflict Management: a strong foundation for discovering novel solutions

Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Conflict Management, Volume 25, Issue 4

This special issue celebrates the 25th anniversary of the International Journal of Conflict Management. In this issue, we are pleased to include insightful, intriguing and innovative articles that have been co-authored by leading and highly cited scholars in the field of conflict management. These esteemed scholars include Allen Amason, Bianca Beersma, Karen Jehn, Dean Pruitt, Leigh Thompson and others. These articles provide a strong foundation for discovering novel solutions to perplexing issues in the field of conflict management. The articles include a balanced mixture of comprehensive and sophisticated literature reviews, conceptual and empirical theory building and empirical testing of novel concepts that provide important implications for both conflict management research and practice.

The literature review by Loughry and Amason addresses the particularly intriguing question of why the predicted positive relationship between task conflict and team performance has received mixed empirical support. It has been thought that task conflict focuses on the problem (and not people or personalities) and, thereby, helps identify better solutions. Building on the literature reviewed, the authors propose several plausible arguments that contradict the expected positive relationship between task conflict and outcomes, suggesting that factors such as individual differences and group-level variables (e.g. conflict history, goal alignment, norms for debate and values congruence) could account for the mixed results. The review emphasizes the level at which trust as an important variable helps explain the mixed findings. Additionally, the review proposes practical implications for future research. For example, when the level of trust is raised, task conflict is more likely to improve outcomes.

The literature review by Wilson and Thompson presents an important integration of two research streams: creativity and negotiation. The foundational premise of this review is that creativity can identify novel solutions that can help negotiators find better solutions to their conflicts. The review considers creativity both as a personal trait and as a cognitive process, i.e. creative thinking that can positively influence negotiation processes and outcomes. The authors proposed that further integration of these two streams of research could be advanced by the inclusion of factors, such as communication media, idea-generation strategies, morality and social motivation. Research in both the creativity and negotiation literatures can benefit from further integration of these two streams of research.

The theoretical model by Pruitt and Nowak presents refinements, geometric proofs and further development of the S-shaped reaction formation model, comparing it to the attractor landscape model. Derived from a dynamical systems theory perspective, the S-shaped reaction formation model presents sound theory-based testable research propositions relevant to research on escalation and de-escalation of conflicts, intractable conflicts and the stability of conflicts that are more or less escalated. This model explicates concepts that can help avoid runaway escalation and promote runaway de-escalation of conflicts.

The novel theoretical framework presented by Jehn and Techakesari is useful for studying important concepts applicable to high-reliability teams that respond in disaster management and other high stakes situations. This framework integrates and advances prior theories of intragroup conflict and the biopsychosocial model of arousal regulation. Concepts that are integrated within this model include conflict asymmetry, stress and coping, entitlement beliefs and perceived physiological threats. This multi-method, multi-level approach is useful for studying, identifying and managing team processes that are detrimental to the performance and stress-related health conditions of high reliability teams. Future research based on this framework can identify important human factors and team processes that will improve the speed of response times, accuracy of decisions and efficiency of group processes and enhance the health and well-being of disaster responders and those who receive their help.

This special issue includes the empirical paper by Dijkstra and Beersma in part because of the novelty of considering gossip as an alternative from of conflict behavior. The results showed that followers were more likely to engage in negative gossip about their leader when the leader used forcing and avoiding conflict management behaviors. However, followers were more likely to engage in positive gossip about their leaders when the leaders used problem-solving and yielding conflict management behaviors. The data suggest that followers’ perception of interactional justice may have been the primary reason for the relationships between the types of conflict management behaviors that leaders utilize and the types of gossip used by followers.

The articles published in this special issue demonstrate that the field of conflict management has a well-developed and sophisticated foundation to guide future research. Much of the most important research in this field has been published in the International Journal of Conflict Management, including highly cited articles by authors of papers published in this special issue. We look forward to another 25 years of further developments and advancements as well as the identification of novel solutions to the important questions studied in the field of conflict management.

Richard A. Posthuma

About the author

Richard A. Posthuma is the Ellis and Susan Mayfield Professor of Management in the College of Business Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has published on various conflict management topics including mediation, arbitration, conflict styles, culture and legal issues. His numerous publications have appeared in journals including: Applied Psychology: An International Review, Business Horizons, Industrial Relations, International Business Review, International Journal of Conflict Management, International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Journal of Business and Psychology, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Management, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Organizational Dynamics and Personnel Psychology. He received his PhD in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Purdue University; and JD, Cum Laude, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has more than 30 years of professional, managerial and academic experience in both public and private sectors involving: Employee Relations, Collective Bargaining, Cross-Cultural and Legal issues and has served as advisor to many private and public sector organizations. He is admitted to practice law in Michigan and the District of Columbia and has taught a wide range of topics including: Change Management and Organizational Development, Leadership, Negotiation Principles and Skills, Employee and Labor Relations, International Management, Human Resources, Labor Law and Dispute Resolution, Research Methods, Strategic Management, Employee Compensation, Employee Staffing and Selection and Multivariate Statistics. He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Conflict Management and is on the editorial boards of Human Resource Management and the Journal of Management. Richard A. Posthuma can be contacted at:

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