Edited by Oluremi B. Ayoko, Neal M. Ashkanasy and Karen A. Jehn
Chapter 24: Understanding the messy relationship between faultlines and conflict
AbstractRecent research on group composition suggests that group faultlines (dividing lines that split a group into homogeneous subgroups based on alignment of individual attributes) influence group processes and outcomes over and above that of diversity alone (Thatcher and Patel, 2012). This chapter reviews the literature on the faultlines–conflict relationship to provide a baseline understanding of how faultlines affect conflict. We extend our understanding of the relationship between faultlines and conflict in a number of ways. We provide an in-depth look at the influence of faultlines on different types of conflict (task, relationship, and process). In doing so, we investigate the different attributes that are used to infer faultlines as well as the different contexts under which the relationship between faultlines and conflict are studied. We extend current findings at the interface of faultlines and conflict in three ways: (1) we explore the effects of faultlines on conflict at different levels (intra-subgroup, inter-subgroup, and intra-group); (2) we argue that certain types of faultlines may cause less conflict than more conflict; and (3) we discuss contexts where conflicts resulting from faultlines would be beneficial. Based on this discussion we argue for a more complex conceptualization of how faultlines influence conflict in teams.
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