Power Distance, Conflict Resolution and Status Conflicts in Teams: How Do Team Power Dynamics Impact Conflict Resolution?

21 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008

See all articles by Lindred Greer

Lindred Greer

Leiden University - Social and Organizational Psychology

Gerben A. van Kleef

University of Amsterdam - Department of Psychology

Date Written: November 9, 2008

Abstract

Power is an inherent characteristic of social and organizational life, yet little is known about how power differences shape conflict resolution in organizational teams. In this paper, we investigate the effect of team power structures (including the power distance between members in a team as well as their actual levels of power) on the team's ability to resolve conflicts. We propose and find that in teams in which members have a low level of power, power distance is positively related to conflict resolution, but in teams in which members have a high level of power, power distance actually is negatively related to conflict resolution. We further find that these findings can be explained by the mediating role of status conflict. In line with recent theorizing, these findings suggest that power hierarchies function as a heuristic solution for conflict and contribute to adaptive social dynamics in teams with low (rather than high) levels of power.

Suggested Citation

Greer, Lindred and van Kleef, Gerben A., Power Distance, Conflict Resolution and Status Conflicts in Teams: How Do Team Power Dynamics Impact Conflict Resolution? (November 9, 2008). IACM 21st Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1298593 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1298593

Lindred Greer (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Social and Organizational Psychology ( email )

Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands

Gerben A. Van Kleef

University of Amsterdam - Department of Psychology ( email )

Roetersstraat 15
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 20 525 6633 (Phone)
+31 20 639 0531 (Fax)

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