Let's Look at This Another Way: How Supervisors Can Help Subordinates Manage the Threat of Relationship Conflict

Academic Article


  • Despite decades of scholarly and practitioner attention on conflict management, few studies have addressed the important role that supervisors play in managing relationship conflict (RC). The current research addresses this gap by investigating the use of supervisory interpersonal emotion management in helping subordinates manage perceptions of RC. Examining RC through a threat framework, we propose that when individuals perceive RC in their workgroup, they are less likely to identify with their group and more likely to withdraw from the group in ways that affect critical team processes, both of which have performance implications. Furthermore, we propose that supervisors can mitigate the consequences of perceiving RC by encouraging subordinates to reappraise past negative events that contribute to such perceptions. Using a field sample of 917 employees, we tested and found support for these predictions. This research primarily has implications for conflict theory, RC management theory, and RC management practices.
  • Authors

  • Thiel, Chase E
  • Griffith, Jennifer
  • III, Hardy Jay H
  • Peterson, David R
  • Connelly, Shane
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 2018
  • Keywords

  • conflict management
  • emotion management
  • group communication
  • group identity
  • relationship conflict
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 368
  • End Page

  • 380
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 3