The influence of productive conflict within product development engineering teams

by Rodgers, Gary W., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 133 pages; 3518074


Abstract This quantitative research was designed to learn more about how conflict management may be a positive influence for organizations. Ideas concerning approaches to conflict management were analyzed using a theoretical conceptual framework with three variables: conflict management style, the level of team effectiveness, and the level of productive conflict. The population of product development engineers was represented by a sample composed of 210 individuals filtered from a proprietary list of U.S.-based engineers. The study provided a broad review of the arguments and research concerning cooperative and competitive approaches to conflict, with a focus on how to better understand competitive approaches. To analyze the data, the three conflict management styles were correlated with the level of team effectiveness. As expected, a cooperative approach to conflict correlated positively with team effectiveness; both competitive and avoiding approaches to conflict correlated negatively with team effectiveness. Next, the level of productive conflict was tested as a mediator or moderator between each conflict management style and the level of team effectiveness. Again as expected, a cooperative approach to conflict was mediated by the level of productive conflict. However, the competitive approach was not mediated or moderated by the level of productive conflict. Therefore, the results suggested that the level of productive conflict is not a key concept that may be utilized to improve team effectiveness when conflict is present. Results lead the researcher to suggest that future studies focus on competitive approaches to conflict within a cooperative framework. Another recommendation would be to explore the connection between approaches to conflict management and the theory that cooperation, not competition, is the essential element of conflict management and possibly of human evolution.

AdviserNaomi Stanford
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3518074

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