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Managing Conflict in Groups and Teams: Conflict about Conflict

Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research

ISBN: 978-1-78190-030-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-031-4

Publication date: 19 September 2012


Purpose – There are a number of ongoing debates in the organizational literature about conflict in groups and teams. We investigate two “conflicts about conflict” (i.e., two meta-conflicts) in the literature: we examine whether and under what conditions conflict in workgroups might be beneficial and we also explore the idea that group members may not always perceive the same levels of conflict.

Design/approach – We bring together the research and theorizing of the past 15 years to inform the current state of literature and move forward research on these conflicts about conflict. We examine and develop the two meta-conflicts to illustrate the importance of studying these ideas and to provide guidance for future research.

Findings – These two meta-conflicts in the conflict literature are important to investigate as conflict is a multifaceted construct that contains many dimensions that may influence group outcomes. We explore these two issues by briefly reviewing the literature on conflict and then highlighting some of the recent research on the conflict debate (i.e., is conflict constructive or destructive?) and conflict asymmetry in workgroups.

Originality/value – We identify interesting areas that future researchers could explore with respect to team conflict and conflict asymmetry.



Jehn, K.A., Rispens, S. and Thatcher, S.M.B. (2012), "Managing Conflict in Groups and Teams: Conflict about Conflict", Neale, M.A. and Mannix, E.A. (Ed.) Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 133-159.



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