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Michele J. Gelfand, Jesse R. Harrington and Lisa M. Leslie

Previous research on conflict management has primarily focused on the individual and small group level of analysis, and there is little extant research on conflict management at the organizational level. In this chapter, we describe theory and evidence which suggests that organizations provide strong contexts that define what is a socially shared and normative way to manage conflict—what we call conflict cultures—that ultimately minimize variation in individuals’ conflict management strategies within organizations. We discuss the principles of our organizational conflict culture theory, and expound upon the defining characteristics of four conflict cultures—dominant, collaborative, avoidant, and passive-aggressive—how they emerge through top-down and bottom-up forces, and their multilevel consequences. In all, a conflict culture perspective offers unique insights into understanding how conflict operates within organizational systems and holds important implications for promoting organizational change.