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Supervisor conflict management, justice, and strain: multilevel relationships

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

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test a multilevel model of the main and mediating effects of supervisor conflict management style (SCMS) climate and procedural justice (PJ) climate on employee strain. It is hypothesized that workgroup-level climate induced by SCMS can fall into four types: collaborative climate, yielding climate, forcing climate, or avoiding climate; that these group-level perceptions will have differential effects on employee strain, and will be mediated by PJ climate.

Design/methodology/approach

Multilevel SEM was used to analyze data from 420 employees nested in 61 workgroups.

Findings

Workgroups that perceived high supervisor collaborating climate reported lower sleep disturbance, job dissatisfaction, and action-taking cognitions. Workgroups that perceived high supervisor yielding climate and high supervisor forcing climate reported higher anxiety/depression, sleep disturbance, job dissatisfaction, and action-taking cognitions. Results supported a PJ climate mediation model when supervisors’ behavior was reported to be collaborative and yielding.

Research limitations/implications

The cross-sectional research design places limitations on conclusions about causality; thus, longitudinal studies are recommended.

Practical implications

Supervisor behavior in response to conflict may have far-reaching effects beyond those who are a party to the conflict. The more visible use of supervisor collaborative CMS may be beneficial.

Social implications

The economic costs associated with workplace conflict may be reduced through the application of these findings.

Originality/value

By applying multilevel theory and analysis, we extend workplace conflict theory.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP0775049) in collaboration with WHSQ awarded to the second and third authors.

Citation

A. Way, K., L. Jimmieson, N. and Bordia, P. (2014), "Supervisor conflict management, justice, and strain: multilevel relationships", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 1044-1063. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-04-2012-0120

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited