• Breaking silos: A field experiment on relational conflict management in cross-functional teams

      Boros, Smaranda; Van Gorp, Lore; Cardoen, Brecht; Boute, Robert (2016)
      In this paper we investigate how effective conflict management in conflict asymmetry situations impacts the quality of cross-functional management teams’ performance. During a five-day business simulation, we explore the consequences of the relational conflicts and conflict asymmetry experienced by team members. We use two different measures of conflict asymmetry: the traditional group conflict asymmetry measurement of Jehn (1995) and a social networks method. We find that when some team members evoke more conflict than others, this affects the evolution of team dynamics (and ultimately the performance of the team) even more than high levels of conflict altogether; however, the reciprocal emotional understanding between team members (known as group emotional awareness) can mitigate this negative effect and improve the team performance through the appropriate use of conflict management strategies. Since group emotional awareness can be fostered and trained within teams, this is of practical value to improve the performance of cross-functional management teams.