Relationship and Task Conflict in E-Mail: Performance Effects Moderated by Verbal Style and Influence Tactic Usage
Posted: 1 Jun 2005
Date Written: June 1, 2005
The modern workplace is finding traditional organizational processes dramatically changed by the increasing use of electronic communication. In this longitudinal multi-method study, we provide one of the first assessments of the process of intra-group conflict as it occurs in email. We examine the impacts of relationship and task conflict on performance. We also investigate new e-mail specific, moderators of conflict, such as verbal style quality and influence tactic usage. To test our model, we collected e-mail data from political-organizing organizations over a period of 36 months, conducted interviews with members, took field notes at meetings, and collected ideological handouts. Our total sample consisted of 7,501 emails, sent from a total of 165 members. Our findings revealed that good verbal style increased the positive impact of task conflict on performance and decreased the negative impact of relationship conflict on performance. Soft influence tactics (such as flattery and ingratiation) and rational influence tactics (such as the use of logic and information sharing) decreased the negative impact of relationship conflict on performance, while hard tactics (such as the use of directive orders) increased the negative impact of relationship conflict on performance.
Keywords: Conflict, e-mail, virtual teams
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