Experts agree that when it comes to teamwork, constructive conflict can result in better decisions and performance. When teams develop ideas together, debate differing perspectives, and synthesize those perspectives, the resulting group decision is often superior to a decision made by one person. But what about destructive conflict – when personalities clash, rivalries erupt, emotions flare, and the whole dynamic turns bad?
In a new study, two teamwork researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have made surprising findings about both the good and bad kinds of conflict. Their study shows that for identifiable reasons, constructive conflict often mutates into destructive conflict. The study also shows that destructive conflict – the personal and emotional kind – is highly detrimental to teams’ performance and decision-making. But the good news is, understanding how and why destructive conflict happens offers keys to good management.
Surveying 94 project teams in large U.S. corporations over two years, Drs. Patricia Holahan and Ann Mooney, professors in Stevens’ Howe School of Technology Management, studied two primary areas related to teamwork: the factors that lead to both constructive and destructive conflict, and the implications of conflict – how conflict, both good and bad, affects team decision-making and performance.
Cass Bruton-Ward | EurekAlert!
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