Workplace conflict behavior: Predictor variables, connection to socialization and structural theories, and distinction from conflict styles
Employees who handle conflict constructively can bring about positive change, but destructive behavior can damage outcomes. The research problem in this study was that it was unknown if active constructive (AC) and active destructive (AD) workplace conflict behaviors could be predicted by age, gender, and hierarchical level, and whether they were better explained by structural or socialization theory. The purpose was to provide ways for organizational decision makers and researchers to predict, explain, and assess workplace conflict behavior. The key hypotheses concerned the extent to which AC and AD conflict behaviors, as measured by the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP), were predicted by gender, age, and hierarchical level. The sample ( n=5034) was drawn from an existing database of 9405 participants who were rated on their conflict behavior by peers, bosses, and direct reports. The nonexperimental quantitative research design included MANOVA and stepwise regression analyses. Gender was the strongest significant predictor of AC and AD conflict behaviors, age was a predictor of AC behavior, and hierarchical level was a predictor of AD behavior. Socialization theory prevailed in terms of explanatory value. Proposed new conceptual models of conflict behavior and workplace conflict assessment were validated by results. Possible social impacts on organizations and employees include improved decision making and conflict management, enhanced constructive conflict thorough interventions, and reduced destructive behavior. Future researchers might consider the practical and theoretical worth of incorporating conflict behavior into workplace conflict assessment models.
0602: Behavioral Sciences
0635: Organization Theory
0703: Organizational behavior