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Home For Researchers Research Projects Trajectories of Interpersonal Conflict in Teams

Trajectories of Interpersonal Conflict in Teams

Research Projects

Research questions:

  • Are there different patterns, or trajectories, of conflict and interpersonal misunderstandings in long-term project teams?
  • Do teams classified into each trajectory exhibit differences in terms of important team outcomes, such as team performance, and satisfaction with the team?
  • Can membership in each trajectory be predicted by the diversity and personality of the individual members, and the subjective role clarity perceived by each member?

Background:

  • Little is known about the dynamic nature of conflict in teams, and how patterns of conflict emerge over time and influence team outcomes. As such, the research is focused on the used latent class growth analysis (LCGA) and growth mixture modeling (GMM) to investigate the discrete trajectories conflict may exhibit in teams completing a long-term project.

Focal variables:

  • Conflict trajectory indicators:

o Longitudinal assessments of conflict and misunderstanding frequency

  • Outcome variables:

o Performance, as measured by the quality of the report produced by each team

o Team processes

  • Satisfaction, satisfaction with the team and its performance
  • Cooperative conflict management, working together to solve team issues

o Free-riders, proportion of individuals classified as free-riders during semester

  • Predictor variables:

o Diversity

o Personality: proactive personality and conscientiousness

o Role clarity

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Lead Author: Matt McLarnon, [email protected]

Status: Analyses completed

Preliminary Abstract:

Little is known about the dynamic nature of conflict in teams, and how patterns of conflict emerge over time and influence team outcomes. As such, the current study used latent class growth analysis (LCGA) to investigate the discrete trajectories conflict may exhibit in teams completing a long-term project. Data was collected from 5,698 business school students that were participating in the X-Culture project (x-culture.org). Students were organized into 954 virtual teams and were required to work together to achieve a number of weekly goals, and also submit a comprehensive business proposal at the end of the semester. Individuals provided ratings of interpersonal conflict on a weekly basis in the latter half of the semester (4 timepoints). The LCGA strongly supported three types of conflict trajectories: Stable, Increasing, and Decreasing. The majority of teams demonstrated the Stable trajectory (85%), but non-trivial proportions of teams were classified into the Increasing and Decreasing trajectories (~8% each). Performance was highest in teams classified as having a Stable or Decreasing trajectory. Team satisfaction was higher in Stable teams than in Increasing or Decreasing teams. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed. Overall, this study offers a unique perspective on conflict in teams, and its implications for team outcomes.