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A Helping Hand? The Moderating Role of Leaders' Conflict Management Behavior on the Conflict–Stress Relationship of Employees

Authors

  • Moritz Römer,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, and Schouten and Nelissen
      Moritz Römer is a Ph.D. student at the University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, and a consultant/trainer at Schouten and Nelissen, a consultancy and training firm in Zaltbommel, the Netherlands. His e-mail address is moritz.romer@sn.nl.
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  • Sonja Rispens,

    Corresponding author
    1. Technical University Eindhoven in Eindhoven, the Netherlands
      Sonja Rispens is an assistant professor of organizational psychology at the Technical University Eindhoven in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Her e-mail address is s.rispens@tue.nl.
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  • Ellen Giebels,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands
      Ellen Giebels is a professor of psychology in conflict and safety at the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. Her e-mail address is e.giebels@utwente.nl.
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  • Martin C. Euwema

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Leuven
      Martin C. Euwema is a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Leuven. His e-mail address is martin.euwema@psy.kuleuven.be.
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Moritz Römer is a Ph.D. student at the University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, and a consultant/trainer at Schouten and Nelissen, a consultancy and training firm in Zaltbommel, the Netherlands. His e-mail address is moritz.romer@sn.nl.

Sonja Rispens is an assistant professor of organizational psychology at the Technical University Eindhoven in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Her e-mail address is s.rispens@tue.nl.

Ellen Giebels is a professor of psychology in conflict and safety at the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. Her e-mail address is e.giebels@utwente.nl.

Martin C. Euwema is a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Leuven. His e-mail address is martin.euwema@psy.kuleuven.be.

Abstract

Interpersonal conflict between colleagues within organizations negatively affects employee well-being (e.g., stress). It is unclear how leaders' third-party conflict management behaviors influence the relationship between employee conflict and well-being. In this study, we examine the effects of leaders' perceived conflict management behaviors on the relationship between relationship, task, and process conflicts and the conflict-related stress (as a measure of well-being) that employees experience. We tested our expectations using a survey of 145 employees of an insurance company in the Netherlands. The results confirmed our expectations that the perception that leaders engaged in third-party forcing behavior and avoiding behavior amplified the effects of conflict on conflict-related stress. Furthermore, we found that leaders' third-party problem-solving behavior had a buffering effect on the association between relationship conflict and conflict-related stress. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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