Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Significance of the Study of Affective and Substantive Conflicts and Interpersonal Conflict Management Styles in the Turkish Organizational Context

Although the organizational literature stresses the importance of organizational awareness raising and skill building at all levels for attaining proper management of workplace conflicts, amazingly there have been only a small amount of researches conducted to diagnose how organizational members manage their everyday
conflicts in the discourse of affective and substantive types or sources of conflicts. By attempting to explore the relationship between these types of interpersonal conflicts and interpersonal conflict management styles, this research centers around a relatively underdeveloped theme in the realm of a large body of literature on affective and substantive conflicts.

Investigating the link between interpersonal conflict management styles and affective and substantive types of conflicts matters because evidence suggests that different types of conflict management behaviors exhibited in the discourse of these conflicts influence the types and amounts of future conflicts experiences, levels of employees’ experiences of stress, group performance, group satisfaction, team functioning, and team effectiveness. Accordingly, individuals who use integrating conflict management styles experience lower amounts of substantive and affective conflicts, which in turn results in lower amounts of stress endured, while on the other hand, those with a dominating or avoiding style orientation, experience higher levels of substantive conflicts, which in turn increase affective conflict and stress experiences over time. Furthermore, active management of substantive conflicts in workgroups result in increased performance, and agreeable management of substantive conflicts in workgroups result in increased group satisfaction. Finally; managing affective conflict through collaborating and contending is negatively related to team functioning and effectiveness; whereas affective conflict avoidance is positively related to team functioning and effectiveness.

To sum up; evidentially it is apparent that proper management of conflict is crucial for the optimum functioning of organizational systems at all levels. This in turn points to the need for an awareness of positive and negative consequences of how employees manage their everyday conflicts. In other words, providing answers to the abovementioned research questions is not merely of academic concern to the scientific community, but is also invaluable both for the concerns of managerial level strategic decision-makers and for the welfare of organizational members at all levels. Thus, both the design and the results of this research are asserted to have a directory value in the discourse of real organizational practices. Through future applied researches with similar designs, comparisons among the actual status quo – id est. the research results, and the aspired status quo in terms of organizational conflict management awareness and skills can be attained. The results of these kinds of studies can be used in the processes of organizational planning, strategizing, and evaluation since they would enable predictions and inferences about several important issues such as: expected levels of organizational, group and individual performance, effectiveness, satisfaction and alike.

The subsequent sections of this chapter are organized as follows: initially, the reader is introduced to an extensive literature on affective and substantive conflicts. Through the end of this section the specific characteristics prevalent in the two types of conflicts are identified and depending upon these characteristics integrated understandings of the two concepts are developed. Next, the literature on interpersonal conflict management styles is briefly reviewed so as to establish the underlying frameworks for subsequent discussions. In order to build ground for this thesis’s research hypotheses the relevant common literature, which has focused on both affective – substantive conflicts and interpersonal conflict management styles as their subject of analysis, is presented in a separate section. In the final section, research hypotheses that are derived out of the previous discussions are introduced.

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