Although task conflict is widely believed to be beneficial whereas relationship conflict is destructive, evidence overall does not support this conclusion. This study develops the idea that the emotion regulation abilities of team members affect how they manage task and relationship conflict, both as individuals and as a team. Findings from a field study involving 39 teams support the argument that individuals skilled in emotion regulation can take advantage of task conflict to perform effectively and limit the negative impact of relationship conflict. Groups that have individuals highly skilled in emotion regulation were also found to make good use of team conflict. Results suggest that emotion regulation skills contribute to the effective management of task conflict and relationship conflict at both individual and group levels.
Bibliographical noteThis research is supported by two grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 71102034, principle investigator Jane Yan Jiang; grant number 71172060, principle investigator Xiao Zhang). We appreciate the precious comments and great help from editor Professor Neal Ashkanasy and two anonymous reviewers. We also thank Mr Simon Lo for his assistance.
- emotion regulation
- relationship conflict
- task conflict