Saturday, 28 April 2012

Reasons to Study Affective and Substantive Conflicts and Interpersonal Conflict Management Styles in the Turkish Organizational Context

The purpose of the Study Resembling a situationalist perspective, the arguments of some early researchers in the organizational behavior literature have stated that proper conflict management in organizations can be attained through watching out for the differences between specific types of conflicts. For example, resolving
intrinsic conflict requires analytical keenness, whereas ... extrinsic conflict requires social tact and diplomacy. In an exploratory study investigating the conditions under which decision making groups reach consensus, attention must be given to the interplay of certain intellectual factors – such as reliance on facts and expertise, fact-finding, information-seeking, and solution orientation in reaching intragroup consensus on substantive issues. Whereas reaching intragroup consensus on affective issues is accompanied with group members’ avoidance of personal contacts, withdrawal from both problem-solving orientations and from problematic affective issues. Problem-solving or bargaining styles are more appropriate for effectively managing substantive conflicts, whereas confrontation of feelings and restructuring of perceptions are necessary in the discourse of affective conflicts. In order to develop a macro-organizational theory for conflict management strategizing it is advisable to build a framework on an underlying assumption that effective conflict management at the interpersonal level incorporates the ability to select and use appropriate conflict management styles under different circumstances and according to types of conflicts endured.

In agreement with these assumptions, research questions of this article stem from a curiosity to explore whether in real life and in the context of Turkish organizations employees resort to different types of conflict management styles for dealing with various types of conflict experiences. More clearly, this article is an exploratory attempt, which aims to investigate whether there is a significant relationship between the nature of an employee’s specific conflict experience – identified either as affective or substantive – and his / her specific conflict management behavior in the discourse of that conflict experience.

The results of this specific research are primarily expected to shed a light on the interpersonal dynamics of conflict processes inherent in the daily discourse of organizations so as to seek an answer to the following underlying questions: “Which conflict management style does an employee most likely resort to when confronted by an affective conflict?” and “Which conflict management style does an employee most likely resort to when confronted by a substantive conflict?”.

Another purpose of this thesis is to develop synthesized and integrated conceptualizations of both affective and substantive conflicts, due to perceived constraints associated with prior definitions to satisfactorily encompass all of the characteristics of both concepts. The definitions and conceptualizations of affective and substantive conflicts provided in this thesis are expected to increase awareness to the need for developing sound operationalizations of these concepts so as to prevent spurious measurement and to ensure proper diagnosis.

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