Kundi, Y.M. & Badar, K. (2021). Interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior: The moderating roles of emotional intelligence and gender. International Journal of Conflict Management. https//doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-10-2020-0179
Background & Theory:
Many studies have been completed on the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace. However, not as much research has focused on the intersection between emotional intelligence, interpersonal conflict, counterproductive work behaviors and gender. This study examines the interaction between these variables and gives valuable insight to how workplaces can reduce workplace conflict.
Research was conducted by Yasir Mansoor Kundi and Kamal Badar to answer the following questions:
- What is the relationship between interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior?
- Does emotional intelligence negatively moderate the relationship between interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior?
- Does gender play a role in the strength of emotional intelligence as a moderator?
This study was conducted in Pakistan’s media, information technology, and telecommunication sectors due to its rapid growth and potential for related organizational issues. Additionally, past studies suggest that due to Pakistan’s patriarchal society, women are subjected to more tense work environments and may utilize emotional intelligence for their benefit. 300 employees from Pakistani companies participated in the study, with 193 respondents accurately completing the survey. The authors measured interpersonal conflict, counterproductive work behavior, emotional intelligence, and gender with previously validated measures.
Interpersonal conflict was positively correlated to counterproductive work behavior both individually and at an organizational level. The authors found a negative correlation between emotional intelligence and interpersonal conflict, suggesting that more emotional intelligence leads to less interpersonal conflict. Further, emotional intelligence moderated and provided a buffering effect on the relationship between interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behavior.
Gender also played a significant role in this study, as there was a three-way interaction between emotional intelligence, interpersonal conflict, and gender in predicting counterproductive work behavior. The interaction between emotional intelligence and interpersonal conflict on counterproductive work behavior was stronger for women than men. In other words, women with higher emotional intelligence made the effects of interpersonal conflict weaker on counterproductive work behavior in comparison to men with higher emotional intelligence.
What We Can Learn:
Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insights:
- Higher emotional intelligence among employees has the potential to positively impact the workplace by reducing interpersonal conflict and counterproductive work behaviors.
- Gender can play a difference in the prevalence of workplace conflict as well, with women’s emotional intelligence often preventing such conflict.
For Consultants: Higher emotional intelligence may allow employees to respond more thoughtfully to conflict, which may help reduce conflict in the long term. This being considered, giving employees and leaders the tools to become more emotionally intelligent may be a smart course of action.
For Everyone: Consider reading more about how you can increase your emotional intelligence. Raising your EQ may help you deal with future conflicts at work and home.