Do conflict management styles affect group decision making? Evidence from a longitudinal field study

T. Kuhn, S. Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the relationship between group conflict management styles and effectiveness of group decision making in 11 ongoing, naturally occurring workgroups from 2 large U.S. organizations. The major postulate of the study was that groups develop norms regarding how they will manage conflicts that carry over to affect other activities, such as decision making, even when these activities do not involve open conflict. To determine the impact of conflict management style on decision effectiveness, a longitudinal design was used that identified conflict management styles in the initial portion of each team's series of meetings and then analyzed a group decision taken in a meeting near the end of that series. Group conflict management styles were determined using observational methods, and decision effectiveness was measured using multiple indices that tapped member, facilitator, and external observer viewpoints. Task complexity also was considered as a possible moderating variable. The findings suggest that groups that developed integrative conflict management styles made more effective decisions than groups that utilized confrontation and avoidance styles. Groups that never developed a stable style were also less effective than groups with integrative styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-590
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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