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Interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior: the moderating roles of emotional intelligence and gender

Yasir Mansoor Kundi (IAE Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management, CERGAM, Aix-Marseille-University, Aix-en-Provence, France)
Kamal Badar (School of Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 1 March 2021

Issue publication date: 25 May 2021




This paper aims to examine how interpersonal conflict at work might enhance employees’ propensity to engage in counterproductive work behavior (CWB), as well as how this relationship might be attenuated by emotional intelligence. It also considers how the attenuating role of emotional intelligence might depend on employees’ gender.


Survey data were collected from 193 employees working in different organizations in Pakistan.


Interpersonal conflict relates positively to CWB, but this relationship is weaker at higher levels of emotional intelligence. The negative buffering role of emotional intelligence is particularly strong among women as compared to men.

Practical implications

Given that individuals high in emotional intelligence are better at regulating their negative emotions, emotional intelligence training may be a powerful tool for reducing the hostility elicited among organizational members in response to interpersonal conflict and, consequently, their engagement in CWB.


This study uncovered the emotional mechanism that underlies the interpersonal conflict–CWB relationship by gender and makes suggestions to managers on minimizing the harmful effects of interpersonal conflict.



The authors wish to thank Professor Julie M. Hite for her meticulous proofreading and reviewing of the manuscript, which significantly improved the readability of the paper and Muhammad Sarfraz for collecting the data.


Kundi, Y.M. and Badar, K. (2021), "Interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior: the moderating roles of emotional intelligence and gender", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 514-534.



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