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The virtue and vice of workplace conflict: food for (pessimistic) thought CARSTEN K.

W DE DREU In this article published in the Journal of Organizational behavior, De Dreu shares his conclusions regarding the literature on workplace conflicts. According to him, the positive function of the conflict has been over estimated by the scholars during those last decades. The positive virtue of conflict has been recognized for the task-related issues, as opposed to relationship issues, and in the case of a perceived cooperative goal interdependence, as opposed to competitive goal interdependence. According to research findings, those two types of conflicts can improve the group decision-making, the team effectiveness, performance and creativity. In the first part of his article, De Dreu underlines how difficult it is to really assess the outcomes of a conflict. In a multi-level perspective, the conflict affects the group, but also the individuals and the organization. Plus, the conflict has distal repercussions which cannot be asses, such as lowered job satisfaction. De Dreu demonstrates that this positive effect only occurs under very specific conditions. The author studied the work of Jehn and Amason which found that task-related conflicts have positive outcomes: first, the work treated very particular situations in which the group member had a cooperative goal and evolved in an atmosphere of trust and psychological safety, the conflict was also moderated. This situation is very restrictive, group members often have different interests which interfere with an open-minded debate. Second, the work of Jehn and Amason is based on situations in which the individuals had suboptimal preferences before the group decision, then the discussion can potentially lead them to the best solution. However if most members had the optimal solution before the debate, nothing can guarantee that the exchange of information will lead the group to the optimal solution. Finally, in most of the studies the group had to take a decision. In real situations, a group experiencing a conflict can be tempted to delay or to

To conclude with. Also. The constructive controversy occurs when parties perceive cooperative goal interdependence. In the third part. it may go at the expense of stakeholders or individuals outside of the organization. leading in an exchange of position for their mutual benefit. studies by Spector have shown a correlation between conflicts at work and psychosomatic complaints. Plus. for instance learning. innovative teamwork and deeper understanding of the issue under scrutiny. groups and collaboration between organizations. the same time actors could have used to perform tasks or chase business opportunities.cancel the decision making. However those studies lacked the proper control condition. even if the conflict was handled with constructive controversy or integrative negotiation agreements. De Dreu underlines three hidden costs of workplace conflicts which tend to be forgotten. the same proper control condition was missing. Once again. conflict management rather than creating positive outcomes. Integrative negotiation is a method of conflict resolution in which each party decides what to give and take. he believes in alternatives with less ‘collateral damages’. as opposed to selfish motivation. it is impossible to know if the constructive controversy benefits the organization or only reduces the negative effects. Finally. even if an integrative agreement is reached. The author found that this method had positive outcomes under the condition that both parties adopt pro-social motivations. The second part is a critical assessment of two problem solving methods found in the literature of conflict management. permits to mitigate the negative effects of conflicts on individuals. De Dreu recommends the integration of a conflict-free comparison in the experiments in the future and leading multi-level studies. . Without it. . Studies demonstrate numerous positive outcomes. the situation in which there would not have been any work place conflict. First of all. De Dreu disagrees on the fact that organizations need conflicts in order to keep constructive opposing tendencies. conflicts require time. in time and repercussions upon actors at other levels.