A strong relation between task and relationship conflict has toxic impact on teams and poses a high-risk factor in startup organizations. The purpose of this study is to investigate the moderating role of conflict behavior and related coping strategies on the relationship between task and relationship conflict in startup teams.
The authors conducted surveys among 100 Dutch and German startup members (Study 1) and 75 Belgium startup members (Study 2). In Study 3, 75 startup members completed weekly surveys in 11 consecutive weeks.
Both Study 1 and 2 show that the positive association between task and relationship conflict is buffered by problem-solving conflict behavior while this relationship is amplified by the use of avoiding strategies in startup teams. Similarly, the results of Study 3 show that individual and team-level problem-focused coping over a period of 11 weeks buffers the association between task and relationship conflict during this period, while individual disengagement coping potentiates it.
This study adds to the literature on conflict management and entrepreneurship by studying conflict behavior as a moderator in the association between task and relationship conflict in startup teams. Moreover, it takes a comprehensive perspective by including coping strategies conceptually related to conflict behaviors at both individual and teamlevel, as moderators in this relationship. The results of this study provide practical recommendations for entrepreneurs on how to prevent conflict escalation via conflict-oriented behaviors and more general coping strategies.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 745947 (“Starflict”).
Kozusznik, M.W., Aaldering, H. and Euwema, M.C. (2020), "Star(tup) wars: decoupling task from relationship conflict", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 393-415. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-09-2019-0167Download as .RIS
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