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Is it about task conflict or relationship conflict?

Jianxun Chen (University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China)
Songbo liu (Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Yue Wang (School of Finance, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China)
Tao Wang (Institute of industrial economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, XiCheng District, China)
Xueqiang Zheng (Independent Researcher, Guangzhou, China)

Nankai Business Review International

ISSN: 2040-8749

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Based on the team conflict theory and organizational learning theory, this study aims to discuss the two different types of conflicts of the top management team (TMT) on the different mechanisms of exploratory learning behavior of firms, and, based on the perspective of CEO-TMT (CEO – chief executive officer) interface, the different moderating effects caused by different CEO leadership styles are clarified.

Design/methodology/approach

Using the sample of 193 firms’ samples with multi-source data, the authors take an empirical test of the theoretical framework.

Findings

The effect of task conflict on exploratory learning behavior was insignificant, and relationship conflict had a positive effect on exploratory learning behavior. However, when CEO’s transformational leadership level was high, or transactional leadership level was low, there existed “bathtub curve” relationship between task conflict and exploratory learning behavior, and the relationship conflict under these conditions strengthened exploratory learning behavior. When CEO’s transactional leadership level was high, or transformational leadership level was low, there existed the inverted U-shaped relationship between task conflict and exploratory learning behavior, and the relationship conflict under such conditions weakened exploratory learning behavior.

Originality/value

First, the authors challenge the assumption of linear mechanism of task conflict, trying to build the mechanism of curve hypothesis, and the nonlinear explanation might be able to integrate the inconsistent results in the existing literature. Second, according to the inconsistent results of relationship conflict in existing literature, this study takes perspective of the CEO-TMT and introduces CEO leadership behavior as a moderating variable to test the moderating effect of CEO leadership and clarifies the boundary conditions of TMT conflicts.

Keywords

Citation

Chen, J., liu, S., Wang, Y., Wang, T. and Zheng, X. (2017), "Is it about task conflict or relationship conflict?", Nankai Business Review International, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 324-343. https://doi.org/10.1108/NBRI-02-2017-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited