The Fourth Dimension: Status Conflict in Groups
45 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 9, 2008
We argue that Jehn's (1995; 1997) conflict trichotomy of task, relationship and process conflict missed a fourth fundamental type of group conflict, that which occurs over relative status positions. Using mixed methods with two samples of MBA student teams, we identify and determine the impact of status conflicts in task groups. We first qualitatively identify the characteristics of status conflicts when they occur independently or with a conflict that is ostensibly over tasks, relationships or processes. We next validate a three-item survey scale that distinctly measures status conflict. Finally, we determine that including status conflict along with task and relationship conflict in analyzes of group performance and team member satisfaction both increases the explanatory power of the models and exerts a significant, negative main effect. Thus, some of the ambiguity in research on the effects of group conflict on performance may be resolved by recognizing status conflicts. In addition, emerging research on status contests will benefit from cohering around a single definition and measurement scale.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation