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Abstract

The workforce of the 21st century is dealing with rapid changes and increased competition across industries. Such changes place stress on management and workers alike, increasing the potential for workplace conflict and deviant workplace behaviors, including incivility. The importance of effective conflict management in the workplace has been highlighted but, to date, conflict management and workplace incivility have not been linked in the literature. The manner in which conflict is managed affects the process and outcome of conflict. This study explores the relationship between conflict management styles and workplace incivility. Conflict management styles (integrating, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and dominating) were assessed with the 20-item DUTCH Test for Conflict Handling (De Dreu, Evers, Beersma, Kluwer, & Nauta, 2001). Instigator and target workplace incivility were measured using a modified version of the Workplace Incivility Scale (WIS) developed by Cortina, Magley, Williams, and Langhout (2001). Employees of three midwestern companies served as participants for the study (N = 289; 48.0% female). Hierarchical regression analyses suggested that conflict management style predicted frequency of workplace incivility among instigators and targets of uncivil behavior. Thus, the manner in which conflict was managed (as determined through preferred conflict style) influenced the likelihood of uncivil behavior. The integrating and dominating styles significantly predicted both instigator and target incivility, while the accommodating, avoiding, and compromising styles did not attain statistical significance in the regression equations. Implications for HRD research and practice are explored.