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The experience and effects of conflict in continuing work groups


Small Group Research


Organisational Behaviour

Publishing details

Small Group Research 1993 Vol 24:3 p 362-382

Authors / Editors

O'Connor K M;Gruenfeld D H;McGrath J E

Publication Year



The study described in this article deals with antecedents and consequences of experienced conflict in continuing work groups. Three variables affect the level of conflict that group members experience. (a) The type of task a group is working on affects the level of experienced conflict, with mixed-motive tasks yielding the most conflict and collaborative tasks yielding the least conflict. (b) A major change in the group's communication medium leads to increased conflict. (c) In contrast, a major change in group membership (one member leaves, and another member joins the group) results in decreased conflict. Overall, conflict reduces task performance effectiveness and is accompanied by less positive affect toward the group. But groups with consistently high levels of conflict perform better than low-conflict groups on mixed-motive tasks in which high levels of conflict are inherent.

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