Luo, Y., & Lu, L. (2020, November). A review of research on team conflict, conflict management and team performance. Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, 155, 321-326. https://doi.org/10.2991/aebmr.k.201128.062
Background & Theory:
Over the past few decades, utilizing teams within the workplace has been increasingly common. With uptick in team collaboration naturally comes an uptick in team conflict and need for conflict management. This literature review examines the current research literature on the relationship between team conflict, conflict management, and team performance in the workplace.
Research was consolidated by Ying Lu and Lei Lu to answer the following question:
- What does research literature say about the relationship among team conflict, conflict management, and team performance?
The authors analyzed over 30 past studies and other references to create this literature review. The report was broken into three main sections: the relationship between conflict and team performance, the relationship between conflict management and team performance, and extended research on conflict formation and transformation.
First, the authors noted that research literature typically breaks down workplace team conflict into three types of conflict: task conflict, relationship conflict, and process conflict. Some studies note a negative correlation between group performance and both relationship conflict and process conflict. Many studies have shown task conflict can be beneficial to team performance. For example, one such study positively correlated task conflict and team creativity, with employee’s learning orientation and goal consistency as moderators.
One study by DeChurch and Marks (2001) noted that utilizing agreeable conflict management amidst team task conflict led to greater group satisfaction. Conflict management has also been shown to positively impact team cohesion. Other studies note that conflict management style makes a difference in resolving relationship conflict, with some suggesting that handling task conflict competitively can deepen relationship conflict. On the other hand, handling task conflict collaboratively can alleviate relationship conflict.
As part of extended research on conflict formation, the authors pointed out the significant positive relationship between task interdependence and both team cooperation and team performance. Similarly, task interdependence was shown to have a negative impact on relationship conflict. Further, studies show that team cooperation positively impacts team performance. A number of other findings were noted on how variables like workplace political atmosphere and team mindfulness impact team performance. Read the full study for more information on these particular topics and more.
What We Can Learn:
Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insight:
- Engaging in constructive and collaborative conflict management can effectively resolve task and relationship conflict. Knowing how to constructively manage conflict among workplace teams is therefore very important; doing so has the potential of positively affecting team performance.
For Consultants: Consultants should be aware of the differences between task, relationship, and process conflict and how they may impact the workplaces they serve.
For Everyone: Learning helpful conflict management strategies can be useful for team cohesion and cooperation. Contact us today for information about our conflict management training.