PHASES OF CONFLICT IN SMALL GROUP DEVELOPMENT: A MARKOV ANALYSIS

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Abstract

Previous research on conflict emanates from a variety of theoretical perspectives and yields inconsistent conclusions. The purpose of this study was to describe the nature of conflict and communication by answering the following question: How does conflict function in the process of achieving group consensus? Transcriptions of classroom groups were subjected to a Markov statistical analysis. The results of the study indicated that phases of conflict are present throughout group interaction. Three phases were discovered and designated as interpersonal conflict, confrontation, and substantive conflict. During the interpersonal conflict phase, conflict is indirect and probably stems from individual differences. While conflict is direct and most abundant during the confrontation phase, it functions positively (i.e., generates interpretation) and facilitates decision making during the substantive conflict phase. Results from this analysis suggest numerous implications concerning the nature of conflict and communication.

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