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Taking sides in a workplace conflict: a study of the influence of conflict type, hierarchy and integrity orientation on side-taking preferences

Wolff, P. de (2011) Taking sides in a workplace conflict: a study of the influence of conflict type, hierarchy and integrity orientation on side-taking preferences.

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Abstract:Previous research on side-taking preferences of lay third parties are mostly concerned about the interpersonal relationships between the lay third party and the disputants, and about lay third parties‟ self-interest and personality. This study focuses on the situational context in which a conflict occurs: conflict type (relationship vs. task) and hierarchical relationships between disputants (hierarchical asymmetry vs. equal status) are taken into account in determining the side-taking preferences of a lay third party. I also included the lay third parties‟ integrity orientation (strong vs. weak) as a moderator variable. Specifically, I examined the relationship between conflict type and lay third parties‟ side-taking preferences, and studied the influence of hierarchy and integrity orientation on this relationship. Lay third parties in this thesis are defined as individuals who are confronted with an interpersonal conflict and do not have any preexisting ideas of how to handle this conflict (Yang, Van de Vliert, and Shi, 2009). The participants are the lay third parties, and to get the participants involved in the conflict, I used video-footage for this study. Four conflict situations, four films, and the participants were randomly assigned to one of the films. 98 participants were confronted with a conflict situation; task conflict with equal status; relationship conflict with equal status; task conflict with hierarchical asymmetry; and relationship conflict with hierarchical asymmetry. Side-taking preferences are explained in four directions: morality (focus on facts and arguments), relational (focus on the relationship with the disputants), sanction avoiding and reward approaching based. The results showed first that conflict type influences lay third parties‟ side taking preferences. Relationship conflict influences relational and reward approaching based preference for side-taking. And task conflict influences morality and sanction avoiding based preference for side-taking. Second, hierarchy influences the relationship of conflict type and side-taking preferences in such a way that hierarchy strengthens the relationship between relationship conflict and relational based preference for side-taking, and between task conflict and sanction avoiding based preference for side-taking. And third, lay third parties‟ integrity orientation has influence on the relationship between relationship conflict and reward approaching based preference for side-taking only when the lay third party has a weak integrity orientation.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61049
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