Researchers Review Task Conflict in the Workplace - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

Summary of:

Gheorghe, A., Fodor, O. & Pavelea, A., (2021). Ups and downs on the rollercoaster of task conflict: The role of group cognitive complexity, collective emotional intelligence and team creativity. Asociația de Psihologie Industrială și Organizațională (APIO), 23-37.

Background & Theory

Group creativity is an organizational advantage often sought out by companies. However, when there is conflict within these creative groups, it is thought that this dampens the group’s ability to work at their full potential and be able to perform effectively.

Research Question(s)

The authors Andreea Gheorhe, Oana Fodor, and Anisoara Pavelea in the article “Ups and downs on the rollercoaster of task conflict: The role of group cognitive complexity, collective emotional intelligence and team creativity” seek out to answer the following question:

    1. What are the factors that have an impact on creativity at the team level?


For this research article, the author used a sample of first year students enrolled in Romanian universities. The students were a group of 159 students, 124 of them who were women and 35 of whom were men. The students were told ahead of time that the author of the research would be there to have them participate in activities, such as constructing a mind map and answering questionnaires to find their GCC score as well as test their creativity. The data that was collected then was analyzed via SPSS v23 software.


After evaluating the university students’ collective emotional intelligence (CEI) and group cognitive complexity (GCC) the researchers found that task conflict had a nonlinear relationship with GCC. However, contrary to the researcher’s expectations, it also followed a U-shape association, not an inverse U-shape relationship.

What This Means

  • Partial support was found for the first hypothesis, which stated that: “Task conflict has a nonlinear association (inverted U shape) with GCC in such a way that at lower to moderate levels of conflict this relationship is positive, whereas at moderate to higher levels of conflict it becomes negative.”
  • As task conflict increases, group cognitive complexity decreases. After the inflection point, task conflict increases and GCC also increases along with it.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: At times, conflict can help spur group creativity. While too much conflict can become a nuisance for teams, moderate task conflict can be essential for the innovative and productive ability of teams.

For everyone: Although conflict is often thought of as something to be avoided among teams, task conflict can be helpful for improving the output of team collaboration. Healthy task conflict can be extremely beneficial and even necessary for workplace teams.

Elise Sanchez

Élise Sanchez is a double alumnus from Pepperdine University where she holds a Masters in Dispute Resolution from the Caruso School of Law and a Bachelors in both International Relations and French from Seaver College. During her time in her studies she found her passion for being an advocate for those who need help amplifying their voices. After finishing her International Relations degree, she decided to go on for her MDR to learn how to be a better advocate and peacekeeper.

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