Does Conflict Shatter Trust or Does Trust Reduce Conflict in Teams? Revisiting the Relationships between Team Diversity, Conflict, Trust and Team
25 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2008
Date Written: 2007
This paper explores the interplay between trust and conflict - two important emergent states in teams - as antecedents of team effectiveness. Two alternative path models are tested in a sample of 139 teams (729 respondents), with the emergent states (task conflict, relationship conflict and trust) acting as mediators between on the one hand team demographic variety (gender and nationality) and cognitive disparity (knowledge and cognitive motivation) and on the other perceived team effectiveness. In one model trust is considered as an antecedent for the two types of conflict, while in the other the two types of conflict precede the emergence of trust. Both models fitted the data well and received equally strong support. These results are interpreted using the complex adaptive system perspective. In line with this framework we argue that the interplay between these emergent states is much more complex than a simple unidirectional causation.
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