Conflict in Teams

Conflict in Teams

By
Lindred Leura Greer, Jennifer E. Dannals
The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Team Dynamics, Teamwork, and Collaborative Working. New York, NY: Wiley Blackwell,
2017, Pages 317-344

Conflict is inherent in teamwork. When members have different perspectives on task accomplishment, interpersonal tensions arise, or leadership struggles emerge, teams have to cope with the challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with intragroup conflict. How effectively teams can utilize and manage these conflicts is critical to their ultimate performance and viability. In this chapter, we review the scholarly research that has arisen on the topic of conflicts in teams. We discuss historical trends in the study of conflict in teams, including a focus on the content, or type, of conflict that occurs in teams, and we highlight emerging trends in the team conflict literature, such as the focus on the processes underlying the transformation of the conflict types (i.e., task into relationship conflict), multi-level perspectives on the development of conflict in teams from individual behaviors to team processes, and compositional views of conflict in teams (i.e., studies on asymmetric or skewed team conflicts). We close by identifying what we view as the key conclusions underlying this large and growing body of scholarly interest – we point to the pivotal role of team norms and member status-concerns in understanding the essence of all types and models of conflict in teams, and call for scholars, whether they are studying the conflict types or the development of conflict in teams, to develop richer theory and research on the normative and status-motivated bases of conflict in teams.