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Making the Team:

A Guide for Managerd
Leigh L. Thompson
Kellogg School of Management
Northwestern University
to Create Opportunity
"Each afternoon, in a tiny workroom on the 12th floor of the Mayo Clinic, the battle
against cancer begins wiih an argument" (Roberts, 1999a, p. 148). The walls of rhe room
are plastered with and data. A group of cancer
and nurses debates how to diagnose, and ultimately treat, the patients. On one
particular day, Dr. L . .ynn Hartmann, a medical oncologist. suggests 11 surgical procedure
for a 65-year-old man with a possible kidney tumor. lfOH/ever, when she asks teammates
John Edmonson and llarry Long for their opinionY, they challenge her in a direct, point-
counterpoint debate. lVhereas this open debate might seem strange. it is precisely the
vision that j(mnder William Worrall Mayo estabiLYhed when he j(rst opened the clinic in
1859. Mayo, an ambitious perfectionist and strong believer of the whole being greater
than the sum of the parts, regularly preached, "No one is big enough to be independent of
others." In the Mayo clinic, physicians are referred to as "consultants" to emphasize the
fact thai anyone, at any time, is expected to be called upon to discuss a patient. The open
debates are part of the team culture at lvtayo; consultants know thai their
tions will be rigorously questioned by team members and that this kind of careful scrutiny
will lead to more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatments 1999a).
s we will see in this chapter, conflict is a lot like cholesterol: There's a good
kind and a bad kind, Most people try to go on special diets so they can lower
their bad cholesterol, hoping to avoid a heart attack, ln teams, the bad kind of
conflict is what we fear character assassination, angry words,
deniaL gossip, and brush-offs, The good type of conflict debate, challenging
questions in search of the the type of conflict that characterizes high-perfor-
mance teams such as the I\1ayo Clinic teams. This style of cont1ict is one that is often
not present in teams. Indeed, most teams either actively avoid conflict and risk making
"trips to Abilene" (as discussed in Chapter 6), or they engage in a type of conflict that
is personal, rather than principled. Some team leaders, in fact, pride themselves on the
fact that they never have conflict in their teams. \Ve think these leaders do their teams
a great disservice<
Our survey of executives and managers, presented in Chapter 1 of this book,
revealed that team conflict is one of the top concerns of team management
Survey of managers and executives in the Kellogg Leading High Impact Teams Program,
CHAPTER 7 Conflict in Teams:
that is not properly managed may lead to hostility, performance deficits, and, in
extreme cases. dissolution of the team. J\t1ost people regard conflict to be detrimental to
cff\.:ctive teamwork and hdieve thal differences between team members should be
immediately eliminated. Howevcc differences in interests< perceptions. information.
and preferences cannot be avoidecL especially in teams that work together closely for
extended periods of time. Moreover. conflict can he good for the team---when man-
aged properly. The challenge for the leader is to transform conflict into opportunity.
Conflict can have positive cons-::quences. such as enhancing creativity or fostering inte-
grative solutions reflecting many points of view.
This chapter hegins hy distinguishing among types of contlict and their relative
and absolute levels within a team. \Vc the-n discuss the team dilemma, \vhich centers on
the tension hct\vecn one's own and the team's interests. Next, we describe voting and
majority rule and when they are appropriate to use in teams. F'inally. we discuss team
negotiation and how to maximize mutual interests.
As we noted ahovc, all conflict is not created equaL Many types of conflict can threaten
teamwork. Before a manager launches into conflict management mode. it is important
to accurately diagnose the type of conflict that plagues the team. According to khn
( 1995) there are three distinct types of conflict: relationship conflict, task conflict and
process conflict (see Tahle
Example of items used to assess/
of Connict Definition mea:-.ure this of conflict
Relationship conflict Involves How often do people get angry while working in
(also known as b<Jsed on personal nnd your !t.'am?
emotional contlicL social issues ihat an: not How much relationship tension is there in your
A-type conflict, or rdatcd to \vork team?
affective conflict)
Task conflict
(also known as
cognitive contlict or
about the work that is
being done in a gruup
Process conflict Centers on task strate_gy
and of duties
TiJ what extent arc there differences of opinion
in your team'?
HO\v much conflict is there ahcmt the work you
do in your team'!
Hmv often do pcoptc in your team disagree
about opinions regarding the work to be done?
How frequently an; there conflicts about ideas
in yuur tc<nn'!

I low often do memb<:rs of your team disagree
nbout who should do what'!
lfmv fn:quently do members of your team
wsacrcc about the way to complete a team task?
Hov much dis;.tgrecment about the delegation
of tasks exists within your team'!
/jased on: Jchn. K. l lJlJ5. "A Multimdhod Examination uf the l-knr:!'it;; and Detriments of Intragroup Con1lict."
Adminismuive Si"ience Qtumeriv. 40, 256- .klm, K.A .. &: \iarmix. F.i\.. 2001. 'The Dynamic Nature of Conf!ici: A
Lungi1udina! StuJy ot lntragroup ( 'onfiict anJ ( lmup PG!f<lfnl<!l1Cc."' \cadnnv o( Managemenr Jmmwf, 44(2L 2}8--251,
Relationship rs defensive, and resentfuL Also known as A-type
conflict; & it is rooted in
anger, persona{ ego, and -tension.-Obviously, this is the type
of conflict that mos_t team leaders and tea:rn members try to avoid, Sometimes, how-
ever. they are noLsuccessfuL For several former managers at Qwest, the
teleCommunications company that went undeccriminal for its accounting
nractices_ say that matches among executives were not uncommon during
CEO Joseph Nacchio's tenure with the companr At one in 2000, one execu-
tive recalled, Nacchio flew into a rage, hurled a folder across the room,
and ordered everyone at to return to their offices (Hudson. 2002).
exoncssed via -open shouting matches. In fact,
some people. and some teams, go to great to avoid any overt expression of con-
flict For describes a case in which lower-level managers had
identified a number of serious and in their company.
told the middle managers, Once the middle managers wcre convinced that the sit-
uation the lower managers was true, to release some
of the bad news. but did so in measured doses. managed their
communications carefully to -make certain were 'icovered'' if upper management
became 'TI1e result was that apprised of the
problems-rather, received a manage-
ment COntinued to to ensure
that it would the financial it needed from within the company. Lower-level
managers became confused and because could not under-
stand top management continued to Sl..J-pport the Their reaction was to
reduce the -freouencv of their memos :and the of the alarm they expressed,
prot>le.m over to rniddle managemen
cmmi!ive co.ntlic!, rs also known as C-type
conflict, it consists of argumentation about the merits of ideas. and projects. Task
conflict is often effective in because it forces people to rethink
problems and arrive at outcomes that everyone can live -,vith. This is having diver-
gent views in a team is beneficia! for and For example. when a
majority o_f members in a team is confronted the of minorities, the
majority is forced to think abour the This though! process can
instigate novel ideas & fvioreland
Process conflict cemers on that tearn members have about how to
approach a task and, who should do whaL
As a general rule. conflict threatens team nrndBcti\itv.
conflict benefits team 1995: Shah & Jehn, 1993),
g_bout a is the most beneficial of conflict
Relationship conflict interferes with the effort oeor>le
members are with threats, rnt:reasrng
build cohesion rather than work-in;;
:tmrnosny mav inhibit
into a task because
1994) and also
CHAPTER 7 Differences to Create Opportunity
distract team members from the task, causing them to work less effectively and pro-
duce suboptimal products (Wilson, Butler, Cray, Hickson, & Mallory, I 986),
ln contrast, task conflict can improve decision-making outcomes and team
by increasing decision quality through incorporating devil's advocacy roles, con-
structive criticism. and stimulation of discussion.
Clear evidence for the advantages of task conflict over relationship conflict is
found in observations of actual organizational work teams. According to Jehn (1997),
who investigated everyday conflicts in six organizational work teams, relationship con-
flict is detrimental to performance and satisfaction (t\VO major indices of team produc-
tivity); furthermore, emotionality reduces team effectiveness. Groups that accept task
conflict but not relationship conflict are the most effective. Thsk conflict is associated
with higher decision-making quality, greater understanding, higher commitment, and
more acceptance. In contrast. relationship conf1ict significantly reduces decision qual-
ity, understanding; commitment. and acceptance. (For another illustration of the dele-
terious effects of relationship conflict. see Box 7-L) Similarly, task conflict in teams
composed of academics and practitioners is also conducive to productivity on a pro-
ject, whereas relationship conflict is not (Amabile, Nasco, Mueller, Wojcik, Odomirok,
Marsh, & Kramer, 2001 ),
Task cont1ict is productive because when people are in conflict about ideas. they
are forced to consider the ideas of others. For example, consider a debate between two
managers concerning how to market a company's produce Although they have their
own individual ideas, when they try to persuade the other by presenting a rationale for
their approach, each is forced, on some level, to integrate the other's point of view< Of
The Effects of Relationship Conflict
Amason ( 1996) interviewed 48
agement teams in small and midsize food
processing firms across the United States
and five top-management teams in furni-
ture manufacturing firms in the southeast-
ern United States. Both CEOs and
agers were asked about strategic decisions
and team behavior. Questions to assess rela-
tionship conflict included: How much anger
was there among the group over this deci-
sion? How much personal friction was there
in the group during this discussion? How
much were personality clashes between
group members evident during the deci-
sion? How much tension was there in the
assess task conflict included: How many dis-
agreements over different ideas ahout this
decision were there? How many differences
ahout the content of this decision did the
group have to work through? How many
differences of opinion were there within the
group over this decision?
The results were striking: The presence
of task conflict was associated with higher
decision-making quality, greater under-
standing, higher commitment and more
acceptance, In contrast, the presence of
relationship conflict significantly reduced
decision quality, understanding, commit-
ment, and affective acceptance.
ourse, it is possible to completely reject the other's arguments, but this is inappropri-
te in a healthy working relationship, It would also represent relationship rather than
ask conflict.
Jchn and Mannix (20(Jl) investigated the evolution of conflict within teams over
ime. Teams performing well were characterized by low but increasing levels of process
onflict, moderate levels of task conflict, and low levels of relationship conllict, with a
ise near project deadlines. These teams had similar value systems. high levels of trust
nd respect, and norms that permitted open discussion<
>roportional and Perceptual Conflict
lCam members often have different ideas about the amount and type of conflict
hat exists in their group, In any team, for example, there may be differing actuallevcls
f relationship, task, and process conflicL And the relative levels of such conl1ict are a
rucial aspect for team leaders to understand as it affects task performance (Jehn &
:batman, 2000), Proportional conflict composition describes the relationship among
he three types of conflict (task, relationship, and process) as the level of each type of
ont1ict proportional to the other two and to the overall level of connie! within the
;roup, rather than as an ahsolute level or amount of any one type. Consider the follow-
ag example offered by Jehn and Chatman (2000): A team that experiences a moderate
.mount of constructive task conflict and no Other conflict (no relationship or process
onflict) will have a different experience than will members of another group with the
arne amount of task conflict but also a high proportional level of relationship conflict,
n the former group, members should experience less stress, less distraction, and less
,nger, which are frequent consequences ofrelationship conflict (Amason, 1996: Jehn,
994, I 995) as compared to members of the group containing more moderate levels of
ask and relationship conflict Indeed, teams with a high proportion of task conflict
xperience a higher level of team member commitment cohesiveness, individual per-
ormance, group performance, and member satisfaction. In contrast, a high proportion
Jf relationship conflict is negatively related to member commitment, cohesiveness,
ndividual performance, group performance, and member satisfaction.
If proportional conflict refers to the relative amounts of task, relationship, and
rroce,ss conflict within a team, perceptual conflict refers to the extent to which there is
lgreement or lack thereof. in terms of whether team members perceive conflict.
,erceptual conflict composition is the degree to which each person in a team per-
'Cives levels of conflict differently compared to other team members (Jehn &
:batman, 2000), Specifically, each members perceptions of conflict are compare to all
rther group members' perceptions of the group, Jehn and Chatman (2000) the
ollowing example:l\vo team members in an eight-person team perceive arguments in
he group pertaining to the task while the other six members do not detect such con-
lict. lbese two members have a larger 'perceptual conflict" composition score than
hose members who believe that there is no task conflict, Importantly, disagreements
ts to whether and how much conflict exists in a team negatively influence team effec-
C!!AP!TR 7 ( \mflict in TCam'i: Leveraging to Creak Opportunity
Transforming Relationship into Task Conflict
T"he key. nf course. for the team leader is to learn how to transform relationship
conllict into task conflict: OL ideally, design the team so that relationship conflict does
not erupt and instc;ul only healthy task conflict exists. Usually. relationship conflict
emerges \vhcn there is no other appropriate outlet for conflict. Cohesion and trust
among team members allo\VS cognitive conflict to productively emerge. Indeed, friends
arc better at applying cffcctiYc conflict management strategies to suit the task at hand
than arc teams \)f strangers. \VIlO'iC conflict management approaches arc less sophisti-
cated (Shah & Jc:hn. 1993). Some specific strategies follow.
A.tJn',' (Ill t1 C1mmatt (,'(";/ (Ji. SlltuwJ
The importance of a conmwn goal is summeJ up in quote by Steve Johs. who is
associated with two high-profile Silicon Valley companies-Apple Computers and
Pixar. Inc. It's okay to spend a lot of time arguing about which route to take to San
Francisco when everyone wants to end up there. hut a lot of time gets \Vasted in such
arguments if one person wants to go lO San Francisco and another secretly wants to go
to San Diego'' (Eiscnh<JrdL Kahwajy. & Bourgeois. 1997. p. BO). Shared goals do not
imply homogeneous thinking. but they do require everyone to share a vision. Steve
Jobs is not alone in his thinking. Colin Scwcll-Ruttcr. a director of The Results
Partnership. a consultanc:y that specializes in improving hoard-kvel communications.
concludes that "[tJhe single most important source of problems within the boardroom
is the lack of a shared vision. and shmcJ corporate goals .... All the major difficulties
ultimately stem from that'' (Lynn, lY07, p. 31).
The 1993 departure of Ernest Mario as chief executive of pharmaceutical firm
Cilaxo (as it \Vas thc:n called) illustraws hmv contlicts can also mask the fact that teams
never fundamcntaily agreed on what the cumpany is about. f\1ario was thought to have
been preparing a takeover of American rival \Varner-Lamhcrt. even though the then-
chairman. Sir Paul Girolami. believed that the company should stick with its strategy of
investing for organic growth. The result \Vas a bitter conflict that culminated In Mario's
departure with a payoff (it was only Dftcr Girnlami retired that Glaxo made its
first takeover in decades when it hid for \Vclicomc ).
( 'rt'al<' a Pfacc/;w J;z,,J: and l)nh'(',,,J and Get It Out t!Itbe Open
Most people. even seasoned managers and executives. feel uncomfortable about
conflict much easier to C<:lpitalite on constructive conflict by creating a time and
place for it to occur, rather than expecting it to naturally erupt. Furthermore. Uis-
the potential for conflict he fore it erupts is a lot more effective than trying to
deal with it after the fact. As an example of how companies create a forum for
flicL sec Box 7-2.
lla!ntlzq tfz J;J,Ik (
For many people. task conflict or open debate, docs not come naturally. They have
lived their lives in rcpressed-conilict situations and have never had an opportunity to
sec healthy conflict in action. H task conflict is not in team members repertoires, it will
be impossible to cultivate conditions for it to thrive.
One step is to provide members with training in task conflict Asking team mem-
hers who have not hcen trained in task conflict to discuss their most sensitive issues is
Creating a Forum for Conflict
s Construction Corporation, which has
ed on the renovation of Los Angeles
Hall and the construction of a football
urn in Nashville, deals with conflict in
pen fashion. Prior to each projecL
s construction teams hold a planning
an in which team members openly
:ss potential conflicts, These planning
Jns are conducted by company
who encourage the project owner,
tects, contractors. and other p!ayers to
out processes they plan to follow to
1e job done. During the session. partic-
.s draft and sign a "win-win agree-
ment,'' which includes a matrix that lays out
what team members expect from one
another. The first box in a matrix may detail
the owner's responsibilities on the project,
whereas the next box may look at the
s expectations of the construction
manager, Teams then use this matrix to
review their progress on the project. Bovis
m-anagers agree that the process has not
o:n:ly decreased the adversity that is so
prevalent on construction sites, but the firm
has also saved millions of dollars and has
completed projects on time (Oldham,
rot the best starting point, Instead, training should begin with topics in which the
takes are low. Further. leaders and othet team members can serve as "coaches'' for
me another (see Sidebar Edmondson, Bohmer, and Pisano (2000) refer to the
bility of teams to discuss tough issues as ''psychological safety,'" A group that has a
righ level of psycholo_gical safety has interpersonal trust and mutual respect among
nembers. tvforeover, psychological safety leads to greater innovativeness, more open-
Less, and comfort in raising difficult issues.
In their book, Getting Disputes Resolved, Ury, Brett, and Goldberg ( 1988)
1bserved -managers in many different types of coal mines, and so
1n-discussing conflicts and in many cases, engaging in confiict.Ury et aL (1988) dis-
( 'l L\PTU\
thrt.'l' thcl.t pvnpk' ulk to ,lflt..' anr1thcr in such di-;putc situ:ninns. \\ hich
luhck:d: ,md pn'LT L'onrlid is a Jut !ikL" ta:-:k
nlct. !t i:o-, l)l)\ pcr:c.on;d, <HlJ (JCLl!r'-' \\hL'r\ ]lLOjlk <ltlt:mpt Tn !Clr!l ;lb(lllt tilt: ClthCT lC<ll1l
m(mb...:rs lng l1l-'L'ds. Llcsir'--,_ or L'OtKc'rn:--. Tbc righh-l'asnl approach to conflic1
j:; hL':FiJ\ roL'Uscd 011 St<:ndard'i Oi f::irnC'i'. pl"t'CL'Lk!lL :llid isSUCc;, hna]IY_ the
i!jl!l!'O:JCh \<_l nm!'iicl lhr...:-:lh. <l1L1c'ks t!lll'IWLICkL and the US<..' of
rcmk or \tutus
.-\s Jll l'\tunpk (lf tJ-L: dii'i',__'rL11L'c' hL'l\\'..__';,;.'!l inkrv-..h- ttlld pu\\cr-hac;L'd
:tpproachvs in k<ll1b. '-onsidcr d L_':llll in\\ hich tlwr..: h:-t-.. h.:cn <l sninuc:;. lonf!-Standing
conflict concnning thL' Jut uri._' of lhL' to tc;ml !lll'nllxrs. Sumc as,ign-
HL'llts arc Llc:lrly r(:ganJ<..d llll)rL' cl11r:IL'!i\c ;lnd L'<lrc'LT-..:nh<clllCing than others.
Iln\\l:YC'L r,lr the h.__' ,,Ut.>.xs...:ful. Jl! as:-,i)!l11llCn1s llllbl ht. CO\lTCd hy the
team. On<..' or lilt..' I ;JJT)'. tl lllt.'cting h\ stat "I arn ll\ll at :ill
wit!l how the <hSi!lnmcnh for tlw prnjr:ct :HL' handled. l <Hl1 ha\'ing to do
1 he IL'<t"t p:lrt o( tht..' pro.j.:..__t :md it i-; a lot tlf \\'ork. I want to he c\cuscd from
tJ-ut p:lrl uf the pl'l)jcct in thL futurL."Thn_'(' difkrcnl kdllli11Clllhns might l'C'-'pond in
tht.. ft)l!n\Yillf. on \\hich appro:1ch the: l<ll-\c to the conflict at hand:
J. fllkf!'.\{.\-hii\'({/ I'CSjil!i/'.'''.- [<II r.\. l'\L' -;'--'I1'-.Cd i)lcllllii:-, .!'-.. \JI gr_':ll (\\fh.'<..'rll tll .\Oll. \\-'c'd ;JIIiik(
tniL"<ir mur,: ,Jbuut Ynur ()\\11 nn rln:, :uJd \\h:ll \our :lrL'.! will he lwnc"l in
111:11! :nn rut :m\ can di:Hlo;,___ J\ lnr JHm_ hut I think that 1t is illljllli'-
Luntin! w,__- :lll h;nl- :1 di<UlCc lP umknJ:111d )](,\\ llih; ot'll\ the' W\lrk-
!,l<ld ,lllll <t:,signm<..'lll' ;111 !Ill.' prlljcct dllhi' !1'1inl.
1-\i,c:!Jr,-hmcd '!J'\'k:. l_;nn, \ilU :1\!H''--'d n cn\'--'r th:l1 (1( tlh.' \Yh.:n \\c
fJl''-.1 \()llk \ltllhl' dwJknr:v i'<Hir \;:; r" ;lf!'l. ,-\,<; J l]]:ltTU ni' i':JCI_1jy)j._:n:: tllilt l h:l\L' ;me-mail
frum \ uu tgi'L'L' lo d,J th:11 (1:1ri (lf t11v \\Orl. '\\ !':1r :1s I :Hl1 CPl1
,c:nl,:d. thi:- :,; ;, m,\lkr Dl ,H\d \\1Jdt pcnpk ha\l: h d11./ <Jill \Urc
ih:il ,1ur 'UpL-r\isor \\ouU <Jllk '-'<lllc.:Ju,ion :1'- l \\Ol!ld iJ '-<!\\ tiK e-mail! ;1111
tl'.._';llm,:nL VH :II! h;l\<,_' inlp(>rLtLl t\1 do \t_) mcctthL proj,cl ;nnt!rcd of' kning
t\l w:ilk 11!1 <trOUild t!w, i:-'-lh __- :md l d\li!.l!lnnh. tint di"-cuo.:-:illi! unrc;tli:-:tic dlld "-L']f-
i-.;n )c'cJ<th r-. :1 us..: (li \,HI. k:llli ti: l_. \\...: c;impl:-, f{lll(l\\ principk ,1f r;lllk 111 nur
kdill. i'ul th:d \\<Hdd h: h:H.l !.1lr _'nu. J ;nn iL:,Jlh \(l nmlinu,, uur prun::-'-.. hul
Thl: pu\\ tc;un mvmb'-'r ;n thi:-. t..''\:m:plv i:-., thing'--r;ll t(xhniquL")
dc"iglh.d to thrc;ltcn ;md intimidall' Fir-;L thcr"L' arc numnt)US unflattering charadcr
;JtLH:Ks l.a!TV ]:-, LlbL!cd <t'> "out u( lint.:" "dcnwncling ... a prinw--dunnct." and "Ull!Till
i-..\i(,_ :n1d c;clfi'-h." fhi" conlmvnt Ci.illLiin'- :-.Onll' thin]\- gui"L'd tilrc<Jh: lr l.arr\ doc"
!Wl :-:hut up. !hi:-, tl':un nwmh.._r intl'!lds to pull r<l!lk. Tllt.' lc;nn member,
l'tlCUsing tlll the p<lsl. '-;ei\S_ vvl. cannot hi!\"' this discus".ion."The
b:hL'd k:l!n munb'-r Sl<lk'i tlut !hnc mel\' ll<Jl he nHltll for llHJ\L'l11CllL hut
slk !.., Oi'Cn to undn:-:t:mding. !n \\<ly. till: rcspdll'-,L' models thL dou-
hk-lonp qyk of { l')/'7;! L \lo'-'( jll'oph.:. \\hen faced \\-ith s.._'nsi-
li\'--' :HH.l i..;:-;ucs. f'ind il Ln c;t:-.,!'---r to hunch intu ri_:::hh- or argu-
ilh.'!lh. l any nr f!O'\Lr- ha--;cd L'<lll he connTkd into ,-ul
intcrv>h-h:lscd r(_>Thl!l"\..' \\ithtlUl fnr,_in_ team 11ll'nlhcrs tn c;q.litulatc to (!thcr-.;_
In most teams, members have both cooperative and competitive motives (Deutsc
1973). Team members share a common objective when they work this is a
cooperative aspect Yet in many teams. individual members have an incentive to fu
ther their own interests.1Cam efforts are often subverted when individual agendas le::'
to competition between members. and members hecome preoccupied with what othe
are getting. relative to what they themselves are getting. Sometimes the way teams a1
set up can lead to these kinds of conflict. For example. when individuals arc compel
sated according to team rather than individual performance. contlict may arise to tl
detriment of the team if members' skills. abilities, or effort vary to a significant degre
In many team situations. members face a choice between furthering lev
interests or their own personal interests. For example, consider project teams con
posed of various members within a company Each employee may be, at any time,
member of four or more project teams. Consequently, the team members have oth1
projects vying for their attention and have an incentive to work on pet projects. letti1
the rest of the team carry them on the other project. However_ if everyone does th
each project suffers. The choice between individual and group interests is a tea
dilemma. The hallmark features of a team dilemma arc when members a:
interdependent with regard to resources, and each person has an incentive ro free rir
on the group's efforts. The resources may be tangible outcomes. such as salaries. offi
space. or equipment. or intangible outcomes. such as information. services. or soci
support (Foa & Foa, 1975).
Team members in this case must choose between the team and
Consider the following team dilemmas:
A group of MBA students is working on a class project that counts for 50 percent of thci1
grade. Some take a higher course load than o1hcrs: some are taking the course
some are second-year students who already have jobs. How should the work be divided'?
Companies with significant R&D activities frequently usc functional teams,
However, when the R&D is spread across different parb of the organization. members
may want to retain control of the projccl in their own division. rather than co!lahorating:_
with others across divisions, \Vhich might add substantial value.
In large law firms. partners act a:-. their O\Yll profit centers and. thus, have little incentive l
provide knowledge to attorneys outside their group. Yet doing so improves the
viability of the firm in a competitive marketplace.
Team dilemmas pit individual incentives against group incentives in such a way th
a poorer outcome for the organization is likely if each member acts in a
way. The dilemma lies in the fact that memhers cannot simultaneously choose to coo
erate and avoid exploitation by other members. Below. we expand upon th
effectively tip the balance in favor of team interest (versus individual interest: see al
n1hle 7-2).
Strategies to Enhance Cooperation and J\1inimize Competition
In Chapter 2, we offered some specific strategies 1() reduce free riding. Here -;;
add to the list.
Conflict in '!Cams: 1 "''""'"
Diffcrcnc'--'S to Cr'-';Jtc Opfklrtun!ty
1ABLE Tipping Points on the Team Diicmma
These more likely tn
lmlividw1lly reward (C.5!, meritucr<tCil''i}
Lxisrcncc of a hierarchy
Re<.:tmrcc' scarcity
Stress cmJ unccrulinty
SIH>rt-tcrm relationships
Productivity wa!s
Swtus di!'fcn:nccs
f(\am ld<'lllily
These factors mnrc likely to
collcftive interest
(Jroup-!cvcl reward -;tructure"
Salient Ct)DJ!llun identity
Sh;m.::d threat
Long-krm rclarionships
The .;,;tronger a team\ identity. the less sharply members distinguish between their
self-interest and that of the f!TOUfJ (Dmvcs, van de Kragt. & OrhciL 1990). "Il1ere arc
sc\eral \VHys to increase team identity such as linking individual outcomes (i.e., com-
tu team outcomes (i.e., performance). HowevcL don't think that the price
of building team identity is outside of your budget For leader-.; like David Kelley,
founder and former CEO nf IDEO. and Steve Johs. formLT CEO of Apple. Inc .. T-shirts
for each temn member me the Recognition of individual efforts can also he effec-
tive< Sometimes. emphasizing team idenlity as being an integral part of a larger team
t.'fforL such as that of a plant. division. nr firm. is effective. particularly \Vhen a con-
scious challenge is presented in \vhich the team can either succeed or for exam-
ple. heating the competition to market \Vith a nc\V producL If the team has an identity
or reputation of its own. that can also make memhns vvant to uphold their end of the
Certain things detract from team the important of which is whether
members expect to \\:ork together in the future. If the cooperative cfforl is short-lived.
indi\idua!s have kss incentive to invest in the team. HclKL\ another v...ay of enhancing
team identity is to extend the length of time people expect to work as a team.
\1orcovcL menthcrs who believe that other members \vill leave' cooperate less than
those \vho expect the team to remain intact (iVlanni_x & Loewenstein. 1Y93).Thereforc.
presen!ng in membership can also be important.
"Jl,d.l' Plo?qe,J
To the extent that team members make p!cdf!:cS. cooperation is greatly enhanced
(Chen. 1096). Pledges or social contracts come in all shapes forms. the most com-
mon being the business handshake._ nr the "implt. statement "You hHve my: word."
Social contracts arc sometimes exp!icil rYou can count on n1e'") and
implicit (such as a wink. a nod. or a handshake). Social contracts capitali7c on a basic
psychological need for cornmitmcnt and con-;istency. The power of pledges cannot he
underestimated. In many insLJnces, team members who make specific pkd!!-CS nr com-
mitments to their team vvill act in th<ll hl'ncfit the group. even at the expense of
self-interest For numv of the teams \"-'e \vork v.:ith. we usc team contract::-.. A learn con-
tract is a document that Lam members collcctivclv write at the uutsct nf their task
\.Vork. rhc purpose of the team contract is tn ( l) -.'larif:;-' the kam \goa! and missiun and
(2) dcterrninc hmv the k<lnl (:an hest \-Vnrk together tu achieve their g.nals.
Example of a Team Contract
ur mission is to be a high-performing
am hy:
Focusing on learning as much as possible
Participating fully
Sharing our collective experiences
Leveraging the diversity of our team
Challenging one another's thinking
Being innovative
Having fun
" Share team leadership (self-governing)
Rotate role of scribe
1$ Begin and end on time
* Attempt to minimize weekend work
Debrief at the end of each work group
"' I 00% attendance and active participation
There should be a clear understanding among all team members that this is a "liv-
ing" document_ meaning that it is subject to change and feedback from others_ There
sho11ld also be a clear understanding that this is indeed a "contract" for which members
will hold themselves and other members accountable throughout the duration of team-
work_ In short, teams who develop a team contract put themselves on the line_ Ideally,
team contract should be about one page long_ (For an example of a team contract that
was prepared by a team of consultants at the outset of an eight-week-long intensive
learning project, see Box 7-3_)
In some teams. the choice facing members does not center upon a choice between the
team and self-interest Rather. members must agree on some course of action. This is
particularly true when the decisions facing the team are complex. Consider, for exam-
ple, team members who disagree about their weekly meeting time. This cannot be
resolved by each member simply deciding the time that is best for him/beL Effective
cont1ic1 resolution requires coordination and consensus among members. Voting is one
method for reducing connicL in which members agree to adopt the choice preferred by
the majority. Voting is commonly used in organizational hiring) promotion, and
decisions. Team members who vote among alternatives acknowledge that conflict
exists, but agree to accept the outcome of the vote. The key issue becomes how to
develop and utilize a suitable voting scheme.
Voting Rules
There <J_re several kinds of voting rules, and different rules are used in different sit-
uations. The objective of voting rules can be to find the alternative that the greatest
number of team members nrefeL the alternative the fewest members object to, or the
lh:tt i11d\[!11i!L''- \\\_'!1
ll!l'l11 nr \\'ilhin 1!1,- L'

dcci<..inn (in
hcc-,\U"'--' \ n\
!/,,,,,,, Rn/,-
an Js:-:Lil'
\( \
,1r climin:ttcd
\ndi -id
:1"' n:c1 ;[<_'rs nuy no1 em
\\ :'"" ''L: c]J\i);_';_' ;t, i"'\( s,m1t.'
i\ ruk. ::;d "ti!i ,lJ!L'l"' nn <t
t' Dw: nut vklt1 ,t
'--k' l'--Jnn hn;J!l\-.
ru k- p< ornnL
un:-tr:inHJU" n;k :w
k;m\\ di-,l'n--:s
;'(-c,1d!c.; in lc\'1
OUh'clllJCS th;ill dl\' 1.. :tm\
inhihirs th'---' di'-C'.l\l'i\' nt
\\ ilh t:_roup:: !h;n U"'-' mainriti ruL
JlL \Lnn>c & B:u'-'rm;nL
\in which 1 lk oHJ,__'r
(JU(\_nmo.:s fur I he k<nn :t:'
-, ,:nni
ict m:liUL:L'lllCll! the ;Jbii-
U1L lil'lli(\ ('fhompc.:(Jil cl ,;L ilJS>;j,
,lPYl'l'l1h'rll"- h<C;l.liC'C l1
When a decision :reached in these circumstances goes against what most memben
believe 'is right, if can lead to poor outcomes.
Drawbacks to Voting
Arro1' Paradox
Consider the situation described in Box 7-4.1be ptoduct development team mem,
bers are victims of the Arrow in Which the winners of majority rule electiom
change as a functioa of the order in which alternatives are proposed. In fact, any sys-
tem of weighted voting (such as when members three points to thelr first choice
two to their se-cond, and one to their third) the same prohlem.
The unstable voting outcomes of the product development team illustrate the
impossibility theorem (Arrow. !963). which states that the derivation of team preference
from individual preference is indeterminate. Simply put, there is no method of
ing group members' preferences that guarantees that group preference has been maxi"
mized_when groups have three or more members and there are -three or more options.
The context of voting often involves people explaining the reasons for their pref
erences. Sometimes they persuade others with their arguments; other times, the
in their arguments become illuminated. Therefore. aside from the mathematical com
plexities_ -involved in voting rules, serves an important functi_on. The
itself can lead to buy-in. if not downright consensus, by the time the vote is through.
Stratt.:qc AfanlimLat/on
Strategic ma-nipulation further compounds the problem of indeterminacy of team
choice (Chechile, 1984; Ordeshook. 1986; Plott. 1976: Plott & Levine, 1 978). Consider n
situation in which members do not vote for their first choice because by voting for
\V1Hm Voting Goes Awry
;uppose a three-person product
nent team (Raines, Warner, and Lassiter) is
hoosing among designs A. B. or C Each
nanager's preference ordering is depicted
)elow. J\s a way of resolving the conflict,
Narner suggests voting between designs A
md H In that vote, A wins over B. \Varner
hen proposes a vote between A and C. In
hat vote, C wins. Warner then declares
lesign C the consensus
.... assiter agrees to. _However, Raines pro-
loses a new vote. but this time starting with
contest between B and C. B wins this
vote. eliminating C. Between A and B, A
heats B. so Raines happily declares A the
winner, L.assiter complains the whole vot-
ing process was fraudulent hut cannot
explain why.
-Vote.- ?\umb;::;r\ reprc:s<:nl nmkunkred choicn
another dl\)\ce. som"-' ()thcr. option i"> -,urc to This is an example ul
strategic rnanipulatinn people' do not vote in acund with their true preferences.
Furthcrmnn.:. mc.'Inhcr:, m<lY manipulate the order in \\ hich alternatives arc \oted OIL
because when the ;lltcrnatin:s are voted ,,n in pair:,, those \'Okd on later
are more likely to \Vin (Mny.lYX2).
Coalitions dre anl)ther way tJf asserting po\vcr in a group. r\ is a group nf
twn or nwn.:: rnembcrs \:vho jnin tn)!Clhn tn Jffcct the outcome df a decision involving
at lea:-.t thn..-c parties (Kumnrit:l & Parks. llJLJ4). Cdaliiinn.;;, in\o]ve hoth conperntion
and competition: Members of cooperate with one another in compclition
against l)tbcr co;llitions hut compete within the coalitiun regarding the al!oc'<ltion of
re-..varcb the CO<tlitilln ohtains. Power i-; intimately involvt:'d in both the formation of
coalitions ;wd the :dlocJtion ,)f resources among ll1l'tnhcrs. In some C<l'ICS,
members of an organizational co;d!tion might b .... relatively cqu;ll in power (e.g .. ;ill may
he of the sarne rank): howcn::c in other cases, !here might be extn:mc difrcn:n .... e"> in
po\vcr (e.g .. a kam of senior ;lnd _iunior hires}. Although member-.; of a
cooperate in joining rcc;oun:es .. a karn might rally tugcthcr in an
to 12:1in d grea!Cr budget). they need to ;:dlocatc lhc resource:-. they
<litain arnnng: thcm:-,ciVL'S (e.p. .. indi\;idual tl'am mcmtk'rs may think tht.'Y deserve a
higher percentage of the budget).
Power imhalancc amon)l coalitidn members Cdn lend to a numhcr of detrimental
consequences. including mnrc ddecting coalitions {Mannix. l99J). fewer intcgratiu:
(\lannix.l993: \kAlister, Bazerman.& Fader, !9X6Lg:reatcr likelihood of
bargaining impasse (Ivfanni.x. llJ9J). nnd more ....-ompctitin. beh;wior (,\lcClintock.
\kssick. Kuhlman & ( llJ7:1).
Some situations call for tL'iim mcmhcrs to discuo;;s i'co'illt.'S and huild consensus for
example. \v!lcn a team of prpfcssional-:: must divide responsibilities among thcmsd>iC'>
t1r members of a dep;!rlmcnt must a!locak funds. in btHh cases, member..., mu'il arrivt: at
a mutu<llly satisfactory outcnllll' ;dthnugh each may ha\'l __' different inleresh. This
inYolvcs negotiation.
Negotiation occurs vvhen interdependent p:1rlics !TJ<lk:.:- mutua! decisions rcg;ndin:
the al!ocJtion of scan:c n:sourccs (H;izcrman eta!.. llJSX). ;'\;egollali\m is neccs<>ary
when no one em dict::1te a solution. Furthermore. leam !11L'mher..., must agrL'C for any
decision to he hinding. Failure t;J reach consensus cu1 he cns!ly for the team if. for
it C<lllnot move fnr"v:1rd because it f'<lils to JT<Kh :lg_recnlcnt. if opportunities
are missed due to protracll'd negotiation"-, if of incrc'asc over time
(e.g .. if lawyers ur rnu:-.t he paidL (if if the rights to decision making <!rc losr
anU must instead he sent to a higher level. An exarnplc of ;t lost opportunity due to
occurred nt :1 promincnt -;t;Jtc uni\'crsity. A department h;ld been gnmted spe-
cial fund\ to crca!t' a bad!y nt.'c'ded additional winE?- of:! nc\V building. l :nfortunatcly.
department memhers could nn1 agree on hmv to allocatc tfll: ncv.: spacL, among thcm-
sdvcc;_ the of f1nal Because. nc, phns were for!hcominp_,
he university withdrew the funding. This is an example of a iose .. Jose outcome
Thompson & Hrebec, 1996). When group members fail to reach consensus, it can he
;ostly for everyone. In retrospect, the members of the department would have all been
1appier had the new wing been built. but at the time, they were absorbed in paralyzing
;ont1ict with one another.
What are some strategies that teams can use to avoid lose-lose outcomes and move
oward mutual agreement'! Most conflict situations contain the potential for joint gain.
Jr integrative outcomes, although these may be obvious only after the fact. ]be follow-
ng strategies are aimed at uncovering the win-win potential existing in most conflicts.
fhe BATNA Principle
TCam consensus is only feasible if it represents an improvement over each rnem-
Jer's best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BKI'NA (Fisher & l!ry, 1981), If
nembers have better options outside the team {such as with another team or different
:ompany). then group dissolution is inevitable. rnms, for consensus to he viable, the
mtcome must be at least as attractive as each person's best available outside option.
(nowing the BATNAs of the parties involved greatly enhances the ability to achieve
\void the Fixed-Pie Fallacy
rhe fixcdpie fallacy is the tendency of people in conflict to assume that their interests
tre completely opposed to those of others. 1be fixed-pie mentality can be extremely
letrimental in negotiations (Thompson & Hastie, 1990), Although most negotiations
:ontain potential for mutually beneficia! agreements, the belief that the pie is fixed and
he drive to grab the biggest slice is so pervasive that most people fail to recognize
)pportunities for win-win agreements..
For example, Thompson and Hrebec (1996) found that about 50 percent of people
'ail to realize when they have interests that are completely compatible with others, and
tbout 20 percent fail to reach optimal agreements even when their interests are com-
rletely compatible. A key reason for such breakdowns is that people fail to exchange
nformation about their interests, making it unlikely that faulty judgments will be chal-
enged and corrected (Thompson. 1991), Furthermore. when people are provided with
nformation about others' interests, they often overlook areas of common interest
Thompson & DeHarpport, J 994; Thompson & Hastie, 1990).
3uild Trust and Share Information
Rapport between memhers of the team makes mutually beneficial agreement
nore likely (Moore, Kurtzbcrg, Thompson, & Morris, 1999). Rapport is usually esrab-
ished when people find points of similarity. Surprisingly, it does not take much to find
omething in common with another person. For example, in one investigation
rhompson, & Morris, 1999), students from two highly competitive rival MBA pro-
~ r m s negotiated with one another via electronic maiL The bargaining zone was small
md reputations "vere at stake. All buyer-seller pairs had exactly eight days to reach
.orne kind of settlement. Some of the negotiators were randomly selected to have a
'get acquainted'' phone call with their opponent immediately before dow-n to
he business of negotiation. Others just immediately commenced negotiations. The
esults were dramatic: The impasse rate was cut in ha!f vvhen negotiators spent a
CHAPTER 7 Conflict in TCams: Leveraging Differences to Create Opportunity
few minutes on the phone with the other person--a strong testament to the power of
rapport in building trust in negotiations. Furthermore. those who had the phone call
\vere convinced that their opponent had heen especially selected for them on the hasis
of similarity. \vhen in actual effect. the opponent \Vas chosen at random.
fhese results ma:y suggest that the better two persons kno\v one another, the
"lronger their rapport should be and, consequently. the better they should he at finding
common ground. However. this is not ahvays the case. In face when friends negotiate,
they often do worse than complete strangers (Fry. Firestone. & \Villiams. 1983;
lbompson & DcHarpporL 1 99K). Frit:nds arc often uncomfortable negotiating with
each otheL and so may make premature concessions: as a result. they may overlook
opportunities for expanding the pie in their hurry to reach a deaL Friends may also pre-
sume they know each other's interests, \Vhen this may not he the case. However, it can
he av.ik\vard trying to explain your views to someone who knows you. Strangers, by
contra:;;t do not need a pretense to clarify their point of view. n1e key t k e ~ w y mes-
sage goes hack to our earlier point: it is imponant to create a forum for task conflict.
Understand Underlying Interests
Integrative negotiation often requires that team members have information about
each other's preferences (Pruitt & Lewis. 1975; 'I1Knnpson, ] 091 ). Most people neither
provide nor seck the information nect:ssary to reach such agreements. The most impor-
tant question a team mcrnbcr can ask of another is: VVhm arc JiOUr imercsrs in rhis situ-
ation! (Thompson.1991).
Share Information
The distinction het\vecn this strategy nnd building trust and providing information
has to do with bilateral versus unilateral strategies. ln the earlier strategy. it was
assumed that teammates were mutually engaged in a process of information exchange.
However. if that strategy fails, then we encourage some degree of unilateral (i.e., one-
sid.;d) information sharing. It would seem that teammates should always reveal their
interests to fellow team members. Hov/CVCL they may hesitate to do so if they feel this
will place them in a strategically disadvantageous position. Consider a team negotiat-
the allocation of scarce resources (research money, secretarial assistance, and travel
support) among its memhers. One member may feel that, of these scarce resources,
research support is most important although secretarial and travel support are also
valuable. This person may reason that a mutually beneficial agreement is possible hy
'"trading" secretarial support for research support. However_ he may hesitate to reveal
his priorities. fearing that other members will demand large concessions on the secre-
tarial and travel support issues in exchange for conceding research support "There are
of revealing information: it huilds trust, convinces others of your
,;,,nrilv in achieving the priorities you do reveaL encourages others to incorporate
your priorities in their proposals. and leads to faster agreements.
Make Multiple Proposals Simultaneously
in some cases, team memhers are frustrated when their attempts to provide and
seck information are not effective. This happens most commonly in the face of high
distrust and less than arnica hie relations. n1e strategy of multiple offers can he effec-
ti\'e even \Vith the most uncooperative of team members. The strategy involves pre-
senting the other team members with at least two (and preferably more) proposals of
equal value to yourselt The other team members are asked to indicate which of the
proposals they prefer, This should reveal information about how the other members
value trade-offs between different issues. There are psychological benefits as welL
When people believe they have more choices, they are more inclined to cooperate.
Avoid Sequential Discussion of Issues
There is a pervasive tendency for teams to discuss issues sequentially. This usually
stems from the belief that making progress on some issues will grease the wheels of
cooperation for more di'fficult ones. However, sequential discussion inhibits joint dis-
cussion of sets of issues, reducing the likelihood that team members will identify poten-
tially beneficial trade-offs between issues (Mannix et aL, 1989; Thompson et aL, 1988:
Weingart, Bennett, & Brett, 1993)_ Just as we saw in the Arrow paradox, it may not be
possible to find the best outcome if trade-offs are only considered pairwise.
Team meinbers who discuss issues simuitaneously eXchange more information and
have greater insight into other members' interests (Weingart et aL, 1993). Teams fol
lowing sequential agendas under majority rule are less likely to reach integrative
agreements. This may stem from the fact that coalitions often form, preventing infor-
mation e:<change and discussion of members' underlying interests,
Construct Contingency Contracts and Leverage Differences
Team members differ in their forecasts about what they think will happen in the
future. These different expectations may make team negotiation diffieulL For example,
one member wants to protect against disaster stemming from a potentially bad invest-
ment: another may worry about how to spend the vast riches that are sure to follow.
Each may have difficulty taking the other's position seriously, because each has very
different expectations about what the consequences (and the value) of a decision may
be, However, such differences in beliefs can actually improve the possibility of integra-
tive agreements.
This is possible through the formation of contingency contracts. Consider the case
of a cross-functional team in which a sales manager is more optimistic than the manu-
facturing manager about product sales. A contingent contract can be constructed,
establishing that manufacturing will produce more products, but if sales fail to meet an
agreed-upon level, the sales department will cover all manufacturing costs.
In other situations, team members may agree on the probability of future events,
but feel differently about taking risks. For example, two colleagues may undertake a
collaborative project, such as writing a noveL for which they both agree that the
ability of success is only moderate. The colleague with an established career can afford
to be risk seeking; the struggling young novelist may be risk averse. The two may
talize on their different risk-taking profiles with a contingent contract. The more risk-
averse colleague- receives the entire advance on the book: the risk -seeking colleague
receives the majority of royalties after publication of the noveL
People may value the same event quite differently depending on when it occurs. If
one party is more impatient than the other. mechanisms for -sharing the consequences
over time- may be devised< Two partners in a Joint venture might allocate the iniiiai
profits to the partner who has- high costs for time, whereas the partner who can wait
will achieve greater profits over a longer, delayed period.
!L\l'! f-R
( un difrcr.__'nCt.'S oftl'n L'!lLiib contingency contrach. in \Vhid
h'" rc,; ht'h bas.._,d upon di!len .. 'nl po-.;sihk out com.::--. For contingency cu
tlKy shuu!d to L'Y<duatc and kaYt.' no roum for ambig:uity
Ldi\111. ( onditions mc;tsurcment <:;hould he spelled out in ac
Se-arch for Postsetdement Settlen1ents
f\:,ml ll1L'IllbLr-.: Ilia\ dLcidc tll rvnegotiatc after reaching a mutually
tknh:nt_ It m;!\ sc(m or ..:ountcrpruducti\ c 10 resumer
11!1CC dll illTCpt:tl_;]c ap:n .. 'cllk'lli ha-.: hl'L'll reached. but the :-;tratq:._\: of posrsct
tkm..:Tlts em be renurkably dft.cti\-L' in impn)\ing. the quality of ncgoti
mcnts In thL' posbl'tt!cmcnt settlement. team members ag:rc
\J1htr \Yith the goal of finding another that all members prefer \ll{
dlrn.'n! llllc. ThL' current sdtkml'nt hc'-omes the new 'l'he postsct
fkmvnt is t.'!Tecti\'C (-l\:Ci.ill'-e it team members to reveal 1
L'lll'CS \YilhCJU! fear of the_\ e<m safely revert to their prL'Vious <I
the poshL'ltkm\..'ll( S<:..'tt!cmcni discussion doc" not prove fruitful. If bet It
!'nund_ parti ... Gill h..: more confi<..knt !ht_'Y ha\c reached <1 truly integrative
lr n'l bl'tkr :1f._:rccmcm is ruund. lhe team IncmhL'r\ may he mnrc confid1
current ugn_'L'!llL'llt i;, r'-';J!]\' ;1 \\in-win nutcmnc,
:\orms of .Justice
lcam Jncmht.'l"S incnnrlict \\house objccti\l.' appearing arguments arc
tiYc tiDn tho')'-' whu usc 'iubjL'CliYL' arguments. Jio\Yt:VcL there are mar
o!<nc<cl!\L' ;Jrgumcnh. C'unsider the fu!kming:
f:'quiiy ( \lr ;.;\HJI rihutilm- hasn.l lli-.;t rihut ((_lfl l prc:--.cribc" t h:tt IW!lL' shr1uld h'-'
ru '--ontrilllnion,; { ,\d;J!w,, l.
$ Equality tor blind jusliLcJ that :tll tc<lm 1ncmhd" ._!Jou!d suffer or
( \ks-,ick. l !JI.J_-:1. ).
\'ced 1 or\\ L'li':1rt -hii\L'd _iustiCL') t h<ll bend sh1n!ld he pn1ponional t
l1L'L"<-.i" ( Dunsch. I lr;':) ),
cff.._(ti'>cnc'S'> 1,)j ;my gi\'L:ll principle will lx enhanced to 1 he cxtc
c;impk. L'kar.justili,thk. popuLJL rind general. 'lo he more specific. <I fail
nrg:umcnl th:il ha" the fdl!o\\'ing. l'lnr<tctL:ristics is more !ikcly ln \\-'in the
tt:mn members cmd nthn rclc\dllt actor\ (\fcssick.ll)tJ3):
* _\'implicit_)'.' k;ml member:- should h\_: 10 dlliculalc the proccdmc easily. n
1!1\_' L"iLinl"L'" uf mi-..unddSt<llldini!. ;md makes it c:1sicr tn l'\<Jluatc how nccuratd
cillrl' i" impkm'-ntc:d
( 'larity: Thv aii(IL'dtiun proccdun: should hv ckc1L if noL conrliu may enq>t em
i illcrprL'1 :1! lUll.
Tile PJU'-'L'dttr'- -.;lwui,J be Ulllsi:-.lcntl.\' applied dCnhs in'
\irn...:. ;tnd <Jludlilll''"
* ('on.':>tnsus: 'lL':Im 111\..'lllbl'f'> :.hould ilgru.' ()J1 rh,: !lldhr1d t!l. ai](JCati(m. me
iiill'rn;di/\_- dtcl'ti\c Slll'i;d _juqiL'C pmccdmc:'. ..;uch norm'> ad as gui(
,k'ci,ion in kame;. lkcdll'< thl'C.C rwrm'> \)ften ,,m!i\c l'Ltrrcnttcammer
l\ll:lilhns :nlloclrinakd with proc'-'durL'', the k:1111 fuund u-.dul i
No matter how objective a fairness rule may appear. fairness is not an absolute con-
struct And peo!'le's uses of fairness are for the most part self-enhancing, We do not
wish to evaluate here what is really fair, but rather to stress the importance of arriving
at an outcome that is perceived as fair by everyone concerned.
Reputations for fairness can be extremely important in business and employment
relationships and often set the background against which a negotiation takes place.
Generally speaking, people with a reputation for fairness will be trusted more than
those who are viewed differently. We are not saying that being "fair" or "not fair" is the
right or moral thing to do in every circumstance; simply that a reputation for fairness
can be beneficial in many negotiating contexts. Moreover, an expectation of fairness as
a splitting rule is the emphasis in virtually every business publica-
tion, textbook, and so on, for competitive behavioL
Sometimes an organization will set up teams within the organizational structure to
compete with one another. The idea is to create a healthy competition to spur motiva-
tion. However, this can lead to escalating conflict and destructive outcomes that need
special interventions.
Conflict often escalates because people believe that coercion is effective in reduc-
ing the resolve of others. Paradoxically, most people believe that when others use coer-
cion on them, it increases their resolve (Rothbart & Hallmark, 1988). The unfortunate
consequence is that this perception encourages mutually aggressive behavior. (For an
example of this in a military setting, see Sidebar 7-2.) What can be done to reduce the
likelihood of strikes and get parties back to the bargaining table once a strike has
-nre likelihood of protracted conflict is intimately linked to the beliefB each
holds about what they regard to be a fair settlement (Thompson & Loewenstein,
People in conflict have different ideas about what is fair, and the most difficult conflicts
are ones in which the parties' ideas of fairness are highly discrepant In fact, the length
of costly strikes can be directly predicted by the discrepancy between what the parties
involved regard to be a fair outcome: the greater the discrepancy, the longer the
strike: :md hoth pi!rlit.'" ultim;ut!y PHh, to cnnnicL it crilicJl tn U!Hkr-
<.:t;md bm-Y to partie-; to nWYC' :l\t.i;ry from pcrct..'ptinns df fair tu
mort" rt:ilsorublc Olk">. fhe J.iroh!cm ], tlwt most pl:dplc thLmsch'cs 1n be
uniquely immune to and hcncvoknt in tht:ir O\Yll moli\ilt!on-: (f--,Inn:l! & \Veinc:c
!l)lJ6): thc:v regard hias to he something that afflich the other party in conflict. \1ost
people:; iuvol\cd in re;l!ly difficult cnnflicts huld the folimdng pnccptinn-.;; ( l-J they ;we
them other-;: (2) the.' othe-r \it'\'; is l11dtiv;\lcd {and, hence.
unfair): and (1) there is only tmc correct Lmd fair) w:1y to Yicw the sittwtion. This tril-
ogy of beliefs is a recipe for di-;aslcL unk'..;:., '-iOlTli..'lhing em he dnnt.' to moYc
away from one (and lwpcfully more) of \'iL'\.s.
\fost people me not th:ll !heir O\\ n perception\ of arc
ca!ly biased. For cx<lmpk. \"tin .\vcnnat.'t ( l{Y:'-J.) :l:.,kcd tl'am hi complete scv-
t.:Ll.l quL:stionnairt'S. These look t.ithcr 45 or 90 minutts. Tlh ..' qucslionnaircc-> were con-
<.,tructcd '>O th<JL for CtlL'h durnt!nJL .;;ornL' p<lrticipanls six questionnaires.
where a'-' othns completed only thrct.. \Vhcn ;1sked tu al!ocltc monetary rewards. pm-
ticipants cmphasi;cd tht' th:1t f:Jvort.'d them in the <Jllocation procedure
(those \Vbn wnrkLd longer cmpha'-.i/cd time: questionnaire completion \Vas cmpha-
si;cd by those who worked on rnore
I1 is not surprising, thcrL that mcrnhcrs who contribute less prefer to di\idc
rc'Sdllrccs L'quall:-..-, \Vht.TC<t" those who contribute more pr<:..'kr the cquit!: ruk ( Al!i\on
& Messick, 1090), In cont<:1ining members htlYing different pmver nr status lev-
els. tho:-.e with low want equality. \\'hcrC<lS those with high power desire L'quit)-
(Komorita & ChcrtkofL l97J: Sha\v. l iJN! ).
As a \vay of dealing \\ith how to minimize egocentric perceptions of cnnflict. it j<.;
prob<lhly most useful to first indicate which strategies Sl'Cm like would vYork_ hut
usually don't. \Vc are not say that these strategie-s me doomed to f11ilure. but rather
that they hme been \Tied and h;we not been shm\n to work. M luht in sirnulakd (yet
rcaliqic) conflict situations. It would seem that prnviding both with veridical
inlorm:ltion pertaining to !he' conflict {:;tntistic\ on thl' lalwr compdi--
tih? etc.) would he hclrfuL at the very lcac,t i.lS a reality check; how-
t\'c'L this hac, not sho\Vll to he helpful. That is, when rnarwgcmcnt labor arc pro-
\idcd \\-ilh additionaL unhia\cd information concerning disputl"..;, this has the eff::ct of
further entrenching both more firmly in lhtir own po\itinn'> {Thompson &
f_ocwcnstcin, l99:2).To thi-; hack fire t.>ffcct. it important to recall our di::.-
cus'1ion of the confirmution hiac;. Partie::; intc'fJ!lTl informtllion in a \\ay thai is mo:-;t
favor,-lhlc to own position. Thus. they put their own on the f;_Jcts in il WilY that
them more cnnfidencc in their J-ll!:->ition.
lt may Sr,_';_'m that \Yarning disputant-; about the cxbtL'ncl; of hi;ls may he effective in
reducing conflict ;md. nt the \\.'ry le<1sL getting partie" tu perform :1 check of
their d\'\/11 positions and hclicfs supp()rting those 11o<..,itinn:.;. J Io\\-C\TL thi" dncs litllc to
assu;_tgc biased perceptions ( Rc1 hcock. Ltn:wL:nskin. hsaeharoff. (._\:. C;tmcrcr, Jf.)l)) ).
>\pp;ir;_'nlly. people rcg;lrd hi<J<.: ;ts something that dfflicb tlll: other guy"- -not thcm-
'1C!h'',, For similar rL'<lSOI1'< t;lking the othn person\ point nr vic'\\- j..,; guh:r<JI!y not
cHeclin:' in reducing hi a" ;md conflict.
SLJ much ror \Yhat dnc-s !!(if work. \\--'hat dot'S \\-ork tn l"L'dl!cc Cf2:UL'L'IHriL pcrccptil)lb
of fairncs-:".) The key is lu gel parties to change tht.'ir 0\\D perceptions ;1hou1 wh<Jt is fair.
p;1nics to adin:l;. think ahNJt thl' in their mu1 po-;ilion L'<lll he
effective in reducing the length of costly strikes (Babcock et aL 1995), Furthermore,
inviting a respected, neutral outsider to mediate can be cflective (see Sidebar 7-3),
Conflict in teams Js unavoidable, However, it does not have to result in decreased pro-
ductivity, Managed effectively, conflict can be key to leveraging differences of interest
to arrive at creative solutions. However, many people intuitively respond to conflict in
a defensive fashion, and this emotional type of conflict can threaten productivity. To
the greatest extent possible, team members should depersonalize conflict. We have
presented a variety of ways to achieve this. \Ve have also cautioned against using
majority rule, splitting the difference, and strict agendas, which might stifle the oppor-
tunity for team win-win gains.