The Importance of Supervisor Support to Buffer the Link between Task Conflict and Relationship Conflict at the Work Unit Level: A Longitudinal Study
26 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 9, 2008
Because task conflict is usually positively related with relationship conflict, recent conflict research has addressed the next question: how can the team or work units benefit from productive conflict (task conflict) without stimulating destructive conflict (relationship conflict)?. Building on these studies and focusing on leader's behaviour, the study 1 of the present article argue that supervisor support moderates the link between task conflict and relationship conflict. The results showed that task conflict was positively related with relationship conflict when the employees perceived low levels of supervisor support. In contrast, task conflict was not positively related with relationship conflict when the subjects perceived high levels of supervisor support. Conflict research also suggests that the link between task and relationship conflict can be better understood if these relationships are analyzed over time. For these reasons, using a longitudinal design, study 2 explored (a) how the levels of initial task conflict (T1) were related with the levels of later relationship conflict (T2) (b) how supervisor support moderated the link between initial task conflict (T1) and later relationship conflict (T2). Implications for conflict theory and work unit practices are discussed.
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