The contingent effect of constructive confrontation on the relationship between shared mental models and decision quality



Work teams are being utilized more frequently to give organizations access to the broader knowledge and skill base of employees, as well as to provide for adaptive, efficient decision-making. In teams, we argue that constructive confrontation norms are an important contingency variable in the relationship between mental model similarity and decision quality. Mental model similarity helps team members understand one another's perspectives and reduces the likelihood of conflict. Accordingly, mental model similarity improves decision quality. When strong norms of constructive confrontation are in place, however, teams are in a better position to reap the benefits of conflict (greater diversity of inputs) without experiencing its negative consequences. Thus, when constructive confrontation norms are strong, less mental model similarity (i.e., more diversity of perspectives) is likely to improve decision quality. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.