Saturday, 28 April 2012

Affective and Substantive Conflicts in the Turkish Organizational Context

In an attempt to identify individuals’ conflict frames an analysis on how disputants interpret their conflict experiences and contends that “relationship versus task conflict” dimension represents people’s conflict interpretation frames. To differ regarding the interpersonal focus of the conflict to the extent that “some were
expected to concentrate on problems in the relationship, whereas others were expected to concentrate on the external or problem focused aspects” have been substantiated by his research findings that: “dimension 1, labeled relationship versus task, revealed that people differ in the extent to which they attribute the conflict to problems in relationship and, consequently, how concerned they are about the other party and maintaining the relationship”. In a qualitative study the conflict episodes in work teams and contends that team members distinguish between task and relationship conflict. In a subsequent research it was also report that individuals cognitively differentiate between task and relationship conflicts.

The research interest around affective and substantive conflicts, however, has antecedents prior to these studies. One of the earliest definitions of the two concepts differentiate between extrinsic and intrinsic conflict: “extrinsic conflict is the psychological or emotional element. Intrinsic conflict is the rational, ideational, or intellectual content”. Conflict rooted in the substance of the task which the group is undertaking, and conflict deriving from the emotional, affective aspects of the group’s interpersonal relations. Substantive conflict is associated with intellectual opposition among participants, deriving from the content of the agenda. Affective conflict is tension generated by emotional clashes aroused during the interpersonal struggle involved in solving the group’s agenda problems.

Realistic conflict, like intrinsic, is a mostly rational task or goal-centered confrontation. Nonrealistic conflict is an end in itself having little to do with group or organizational goals. It is projected frustration or emotion.

In an attempt to investigate whether topics and sources of disagreement have an impact on the management of dyadic conflict, also differentiate between substantive and affective conflicts as two different sources of conflict. The
author operationalizes substantive conflict as differences in knowledge or factual material and affective conflict as personality differences and differences in attitudes and opinions.

Substantive conflict is the perception among group members that there are disagreements about task issues including the nature and importance of task goals and key decision areas, procedures for task accomplishment, and the appropriate choice for action. Affective conflict is the perception among group members that there are interpersonal clashes characterized by anger, distrust, fear, frustration, and other forms of negative effect.

In a descriptive study on the types and amounts of conflict and parties’ perceptions involved in a group task in relation to individual conflict management styles, performance, and satisfaction. As a result of the content analysis of parties’ descriptions of their conflict episodes, the authors operationalize two types of conflicts: conflicts centered around people, which involve issues of struggles for leadership, unequal workloads and personality conflicts; and task conflicts, which are denoted by issues pertaining to procedural and ideational matters. For their purposes of demonstrating how types of conflict and interdependence in management teams interact to shape behavioral processes, decision quality and affective acceptance, conceptualize task and person conflict in team decision making as the former referring to “disagreements about the work to be done including issues such as the allocation of resources, application of procedures, and the development and implementation of policies” and the latter referring to “the occurrence of identity-oriented issues, whereby personal or group beliefs and values come into play”.

While investigating about the amount and impact of conflicts experienced by work groups involved in strategic decision making processes, it is logical to differentiate between cognitive conflict, as “task related, involving the degree of disagreement over the interpretation of a common stimulus” and social-emotional conflict as “interpersonal, involving competition for payoffs or personal disagreements”. With an interest in understanding how conflict influences quality of decisions, commitment to decisions and affective acceptance in strategic decision making groups, use a similar typology of cognitive and affective conflicts, where the former is functional and is “generally task oriented and focused on judgmental differences about how best to achieve common objectives” and the latter is dysfunctional and “tends to be emotional and focused on personal incompatibilities or disputes” .

Finally, in their attempts to explain whether conflict is beneficial or detrimental to group outcomes it requires us to point to the interaction of many factors as responsible for the resulting group dynamics, performance and outcomes. All of these four studies are founded upon a distinction between intragroup task and relationship conflicts. Relationship conflict exists when there are interpersonal incompatibilities among group members, which typically includes tension, animosity, and annoyance among members within a group. Task conflict exists when there are disagreements among group members about the content of the tasks being performed, including differences in viewpoints, ideas and opinions.

In a way of conclusion it is paramount to draw attention to the follow three definitions Relationship conflict is “an awareness of interpersonal incompatibilities, includes affective components such as feeling tension and friction. Relationship conflict involves personal issues such as dislike among group members and feelings such as annoyance, frustration and irritation....”. Task conflict is “an awareness of differences in viewpoints and opinions pertaining to a group task... pertains to conflict about ideas and differences of opinion about the task...”. Process conflict is “an awareness of controversies about aspects of how task accomplishment will proceed. More specifically, process conflicts pertains to issues of duty and resource delegation, such as who should do what and how much responsibility different people should get”.

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