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Competing hypotheses analyses of the associations between group task conflict and group relationship conflict

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Abstract

Although previous research have reported strong and positive intercorrelations between group task conflict and group relationship conflict, several different theoretical rationales exist for the positive link and the empirical literature remains equivocal. To clarify the causal linkage between the two types of conflict, we derived seven models specifying how group task and relationship conflict can be related to each other, including some rival explanations. We tested the competing models using a longitudinal panel design, with data collected from 74 project teams comprising a total of 388 students. The results indicated that relationship conflict led to an increased subsequent task conflict through negative group affect. Task conflict, however, predicted a subsequent relationship conflict under a specific context, that is, groups that had lower levels of trust among the members. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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