The Effect Of Organizational Conflict On Emotions Psychology Essay

Research has been conducted to study the effect of Organizational Conflict on Emotions with the moderating role of Intra-group process. To further explore the applications of these variables we used their dimensions as inter generational conflict, positive and negative emotions and leadership respectively. The purpose was to find a workable relation among these dimensions to enable the organizations to use it as a tool to smooth their intra-group processes. As for as the source of data is concerned we referred to published material on internet for secondary data and collected primary data through questionnaires. Findings indicated that there is significant relationship between organizational conflict and intra group processes. In addition to this moderating impact of intra-group processes on the relationship between organizational conflict and intra group processes was also explored in Pakistan’s context.

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1


Contents 4

List Of Tables


1.1 Introduction:

Conflict appears to inherently exist in organizational settings because organizations operate with different processes, norms and goals. Although every organization has to deal with the conflict but the ways to address the conflict vary a lot. Some conceptualize it absolutely negative with a view to prevent and eliminate it while others think that conflict is inevitable for the organizational survival and instead of getting rid of it ,the point of focus should be the system of managing conflict. The modern workplace for most firms can be very diverse as the workforce today is filled with people with different skills, attitudes, and characteristics. As such, public and private administrators must become effective managers of individuals with diverse cultures, backgrounds, and interests. Managers understand that the personnel (human resources) of an organization are its strongest asset that cannot easily be replaced. As a matter of fact, Robert Owen (late 1700s), Hugo Munsterberg (early 1900s), Mary Parker Follet (early 1900s), and Chester Barnard (1930s) are all early advocates of organizational behavior, and believed that people are the most important asset of the organization (Robbins & Coulter, 2005, p. 33). The concept of emotional intelligence is acquiring significance rapidly as human resource is a topic of growing organizational interest and humans are creatures of emotions. Intragroup processes are assumed to reflect discrete processes and cooperation and conflict to represent alternative outcomes. Work on intragroup processes has emphasized the importance of leader-ship, influence, and power within groups, loyalty, cohesiveness, cooperation, and performance (e.g.,Beal,Cohen,&Burke,2003;Chen,Kirkman,Kanfer,Allen&Rosen,2007;Levine&Moreland,2002). Hence realizing inherent nature of conflict, the importance of human resources (humans as creatures of emotions), influence of intragroup processes and inseparability of effective performance from emotions the current study examines the relationship among organizational conflict intra group processes and emotions.

1.2 Rationale:

Although there is robust theoretical and research oriented support on the relationship between emotions and conflicts (Cronin & Bezrukova, 2006; Gamero, Gonzalez Roma, & Peiro, 2008; Greer & Jehn, 2007; Jehn, 1995; Desivilya & Yagil, 2005) as well as intergenerational conflict (Burke, 2004; Blythe et al., 2008, p. 140; Dencker et al. 2007; Dencker et al., 2008; Jurkiewicz & Brown, 1998, p. 30), but no research work has been carried out up to the date on the relationship among intergenerational conflict in the organizations, intragroup processes and emotions (positive vs negative). Hence the current study examines how intergenerational conflict in organizations affect both valence of emotions (positive vs. negative) and how intra-group processes specifically leadership influences moderate (either strengthen or weaken) the relationship between intergenerational conflict and emotions.. Valence refers to the degree of pleasant and unpleasantness of a state. The underline assumption is that organizational conflict more specifically the dimension of generational difference in the organizations can affect two dimensions of emotions. These dimensions are positive emotions and negative emotions. Furthermore positive emotions are indicated by motivational uplift, enhancement in problem solving capabilities and energizing attitude while negative emotions are indicated by frustration and aggravation.

1.3 Objective of Study:

Objective of this study is to fulfill the requirement of our course titled as Report Writing and Research Methods. Under the light of our prescribed research topic we are interested in finding that how different leadership styles manage the emotions in organizational processes. The findings are not going to be fruitful for academic purposes only but also for professionals in different organizations. As a research article this study aims to eradicate those shortcomings we have mentioned as gaps in the previous studies. By doing so we can impart a valuable addition to existing stock of knowledge. These are some of our aims and objectives we are preceding our research with.

1.4 Significance:

Many scholars have argued that generational differences potentially give rise to ‘intergenerational conflict’ in work settings (Burke, 2004; Blythe et al., 2008, p. 140; Dencker et al. 2007; Dencker et al., 2008; Jurkiewicz & Brown, 1998, p. 30). Consequently, the multi-generational workforce is believed to challenge the Human Resource Management (HRM), namely in preventing and resolving intergenerational conflicts (see Dobbs, et al., 2007). Although the concept of intergeneration conflict is frequently used in the literature, there is no comprehensive theoretical understanding of the concept. On the one hand, authors of management books use it as a buzzword without theoretical and/or empirical support. On the other hand, multiple meanings and definitions are being employed in academic literature. Some scholars use the concept to refer to power asymmetries between generation, for example concerning distributive decision-making (Wade-Benzoni, 2002) or decisions about the values and strategy of the organization (Gusfield, 1957). Others have linked the concept with negative stereotypes, discriminatory behavior (Dencker et al., 2007; McGuire et al., 2007) and conflicting age norms (Dencker et al., 2007; Shore et al., 2009, p. 121). In fact, there is a ‘theoretical gap’ as the concept of intergenerational conflict is not yet defined with reference to the literature on conflicts in organizations. So our studies are aimed to contribute towards a better theoretical understanding of the concept. Furthermore the study of the relationship among intergenerational conflict, intra-group processes and positive vs. negative dimensions of emotions will broaden the avenues of knowledge base as previously no such relationship has been studied and no empirical evidence has been found.

1.5 Research Question:

How intergenerational conflict with a moderating influence of leadership affects emotional outcomes of groups in organizational setup?

Literature Review

2.1 Organizational Conflict:

Conflict is one of the core concepts in the organizational set up. De Dreu and Gelfand defined confict as ‘a process that begins when an individual or group perceives differences and opposition between itself and another individual or group about interest and resources, beliefs, values or practices that matter to them’. There are three main elements in this definition. First, a conflict is defined as a process. This means conflict can be latent, perceived, felt or manifest, depending on the stage in the conflict process (Pondy, 1967). Secondly, conflict exists at individual or group level. Thus Conflicts are not always explicit. Sometimes a conflict is present without any explicit sign of aggression or negotiation. De Dreu and Gelfand (2008) state that conflict should be studied at multiple levels of analysis within organizations; the individual level, the group level, the organization level, the local level and the national level culture in which organizations are embedded. Finally, this definition shows that there are multiple sources of conflict. De Dreu and Gelfand (2008) identify the main sources that respectively give rise to three types of conflict. 1. Conflict of interest, 2. Conflict of value and 3. Sociocognitive conflict. The first type of conflict originates from competition for scarce resources. Like in any social system, resources in the organization are scarce and finite. The presence of scarce resources give rise to conflict of interest when positive outcomes for one participant within the social system(e.g. individual or group) are accompanied with negative outcomes for other participants. Interdependence theory predicts that the way participants’ interests relates to one another, or are perceived to be related, influence their subsequent behavior and interaction patterns (De Dreu and Gelfand, 2008). The second source of conflict stems from the basic human need to ‘develop, maintain and protect a positive view of self’ (De Dreu and Gelfand, 2008). The component self contains both individual and group level components. At the group level social identity theory (Cfr. Tajfel and Turner,1985) predicts that individual’s perception and behaviors towards others are a function of categorization into ‘In Groups’ and ‘Out Groups’. This process of social identity formation forms the basis for intergroup interaction and can lead to relationship conflict between groups since individual in obtaining a positive self image are inclined to attach positive attributes to in group members and negative characteristics to out group members. A striving for a positive social identity goes thus hand in hand with feeling of superiority towards others (Dencker, J.C, Joshi, A, & Martocchio, J.J, 2007). The third conflict source is the ‘individuals need for cognitive consistency and socially validated knowledge about oneself and the (immediate) surroundings’ (De Dreu and Gelfand, 2008). In the context of organizations, sociocognitive conflict or information conflict results from incompatible or divergent understandings and interpretations of facts and figures (De Dreu and Gelfand, 2008). As people seek cognitive consistency and social validation of their beliefs and insights, divergent viewpoints create tension that needs to be resolved. Sociocognitive conflicts can be about intellective or judgmental problems usually have one correct solution, judgmental problems are a matter of taste. Usually when opinions, insights and beliefs are not consensually shared in organizational settings, they give rise to debate and opposition. In organizations, sociocognitive conflicts are often task related meaning that coworkers hold different opinions about which task and how these task should be done. Disagreement about ideas and opinions concerning the task being performed in the organization are called task conflicts (Jehn, Bezrukova and Thatcher, 2008). Rahim (2001) posited that ‘ the definition of conflict should incorporate the following: that it includes opposing interests that must be recognized, being seen as a process ,as developing out of existing relationships which include their past interactions and the context in which these took place and finally actions produced to thwart the opposing parties.’ No clear answer has emerged as to whether the effects of conflict are positive or negative for organization and it depends on ‘what causes conflict’ (Rahim, 2001) and ‘how people manage it’ (Thomas, 1976). Jehn et al, (1999) proposed that ‘conflict in organizations should be considered over time and that the term ‘process conflict’ identified in their study should be considered as a series of ongoing tasks. This conflict type refers to the fact that group members have different opinions about how a task can be accomplished and what procedure should be used. In this context authors found that process conflict interferes with a group task making progress. That is, in particular the argument about who does what and who should take how much responsibility, impede effective task achievement and misdirect focus to irrelevant discussions concerning such matters as the participants abilities’. Conflict is also related to a variety of psychological reactions that range from feeling upset and worried, to feelings of irritation, anger and anxiety regarding work attitudes and behavior. However, research has shown that perceived generational differences held by management and co-workers might be more important for generational dynamics in organizations than factual differences (Sullivan, et al., 2009). Many scholars have argued that generational differences potentially give rise to ‘intergenerational conflict’ in work settings (Burke, 2004; Blythe et al., 2008, p. 140; Dencker et al. 2007; Dencker et al., 2008; Jurkiewicz & Brown, 1998, p. 30). Consequently, the multi-generational workforce is believed to challenge the Human Resource Management (HRM), namely in preventing and resolving conflict in organizations than factual differences (Sullivan, et al., 2009). Therefore, the current research focuses on generational differences.

2.2 Intra-group Processes:

Organizational culture is one of the potential contextual factors that may influence group processes (Williams and O’Reilly, 1998). Since organizational culture is a social control system that shapes individual’s behavior (O’Reilly and Chatman, 1996), organizational culture should have significant influence on the functioning of diverse groups. Chatman et al. (1998) reported that, compared to individualistic-oriented organizations, individuals in collectivistic-oriented organizations who were dissimilar to others, with regards to race, and gender, tended to have fewer face-to-face interactions but more written communication, and more beneficial conflicts. They attributed these findings to the mechanism of self-categorization in which collectivistic-oriented cultures tend to make organizational membership more salient than demographic attributes and encourage people to categorize one another as a unit. There is strong empirical evidence that group diversity can lead to high intra group conflict t (Jehn et al., 1999; Pelled et al., 1999). There is a general agreement among researchers that relationship conflict leads to negative effects on group outcomes. The task conflict has shown both positive (Jehn, 1995) and negative (Lovelace et al., 2001) results. Simons and Peterson (2000) reported that intra group trust moderated the relationship between tasked-related conflict and relationship conflict. Jehn and Chatman (2000) showed that groups with high proportion of task-related conflict and low proportion of relation have high group performance and group satisfaction. In terms of group diversity, recent studies have reported that the composition of groups has significant impacts on intra-group conflict that group members experienced, depending on the degree of diversity across demographic attributes (Jehn et al., 1999; Pelled, 1996b; Pelled et al., .2001). While prior studies have documented the main effects of group diversity on intra-group conflict, it is important to unfold factors that may reduce or exacerbate those effects. Group processes like coordination, effort expenditure, and task strategy. Public expressions of mood impact how group members think and act. When people experience and express mood, they send signals to others. Leaders signal their goals, intentions, and attitudes through their expressions of moods. For example, expressions of positive moods by leaders signal that leaders deem progress toward goals to be good. The group members respond to those signals cognitively and behaviorally in ways that are reflected in the group processes. In research about client service, it was found that expressions of positive mood by the leader improve the performance of the group, although in other sectors there were other findings. Beyond the leader’s mood, her/his behavior is a source for employee positive and negative emotions at work. The leader creates situations and events that lead to emotional response. Certain leader behaviors displayed during interactions with their employees are the sources of these affective events. Leaders shape workplace affective events. Examples – feedback giving, allocating tasks, resource distribution. Since employee behavior and productivity are directly affected by their emotional states, it is imperative to consider employee emotional responses to organizational leaders.

2.3 Emotions:

Emotions are adaptive responses to the demands of the environment (Ekman, 1992; Scherer, 1984; Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). However, Fridlund (1994) argued that there is no formal definition of emotion that is not tautological in some way, and ultimately suggested that emotion is merely a social convention for discussing behavioral intentions. Though everyone agrees that people have and employ reason to reach their goals, it is just as obvious that there is another concept of human response to their environment. This concept is emotion (Christopher Merkle, 2007). Beliefs (and subjective probabilities as well) are subject to emotions and this has to be considered (Manktelow 1993, p. 181). Emotion involves action readiness and certainly a purpose of the emotion “fear” is to generate the action “fight” or “flight” (Elster, 1998, p. 51). Emotions give life a meaning and without them we would have no reason for living (Elster, 1999, p. 403). Economists favor a segregation of decision mechanisms based on emotions or on thoughts respectively (Romer, 2000, p. 439). Emotions may heighten or prolong relevant stimuli and may influence the recall of information from the memory. And more generally, linked to the mentioned social function, emotions inform an individual of its position and relationship to the world and shape its beliefs (Frijda, 2000). Interestingly someone reaching the rational decision by chance is perceived as rational (Sadrieh et al. 2001). To begin with expressing preferences is by no means easy, particularly when it comes to emotions (Manktelow 1993, p. 181). This applies likewise to the measurement of utility for example performed by comparison of lotteries (Weber, 2003). Whereas emotions typically refer to discrete and intense but short-lived experiences, moods are experiences that are longer and more diffuse, and lack awareness of the eliciting stimulus. Affect is an umbrella term encompassing mood and emotion (Forgas, 1995). At its core, most theorists agree that emotion is a reaction to a stimulus and has a range of possible consequences (Frijda, 1988). Brunswick (1955), Buck (1984), Frijda (1986; Frijda & Mesquita, 1994), Fridlund (1994), Ekman (1972), Gross (2001), Scherer (1984, 1995), Weiss and Cropanzano (1996), and others who have argued for theoretical models of emotion as an interrelated series of processes that unfolds chronologically. In his 1996 article titled “Emotions are social,” Parkinson proposed that emotions are best viewed as social rather than individual phenomena. At the interpersonal level emotions convey information to others about an individual’s feelings (Ekman, 1993), social intentions (Fridlund, 1992; Van Kleef et al., 2004a), and orientation toward the relationship (Knutson, 1996 Some authors argue that at most an ordinal measurement of emotion is feasible and that some emotions lend themselves to no comparison at all (Elster 1999, p. 279). Emotions may have a dual role within the process of decision. They shape the reward parameters and affect the ability to make choices (Elster 1999, p. 413). This dualistic view can be traced back to Aristotle, who sees emotions as a component of the non-rational part of the soul. His understanding of emotions is that people by undergoing change, accompanied by pain or pleasure, reach different judgments (Aristotle 1991, p. 121). This emotional influence on judgment was perceived a negative one almost ever since. In modern times both the dualistic picture of reason and emotion and the negative view of the latter are challenged. Mostly emotion is characterized by a number of representative attributes. Frijda offers some helpful and comprehensive criteria, which shall be outlined here (Frijda, 1986): A quite obvious feature of emotions is what they feel like. Emotions are attached to persons, events or objects; they carry a situational meaning beyond a mere stimulus. One envies someone or regrets something determinant. This attribute is closely related to the (cognitive) antecedents. Among physiological phenomena observable expressions like alteration of skin color, bodily posture, voice to a certain degree emotions are pleasant or painful. This feature, termed valence, has gained some attention by economists, as it offers a possibility to align emotions on a scale and integrate them into a utility function. Emotions generate action tendencies, meaning a readiness to execute an action related to the undergone feeling. For example shame goes along with a tendency to hide. This feature is central for the behavioral interpretation of emotion. Emotional experience is the closest process to what is colloquially described as emotion-the psychological and physiological sense of being affected emotionally by an event (Frijda, 1986). Zajonc (1998) argued that the term emotional expression is preemptive, implying through its very name the argument that physical cues are intended as a signal of internal states. On the interpersonal level, emotional expression is one of the most powerful forms of social influence (e.g., Ekman, 1972; Keltner & Haidt, 1999), inside and outside of the workplace. Emotions also emerge from the act of engaging in work itself (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Sandelands, 1988), and from Sexternal factors that carry over to work, such as family concerns (Brief & Weiss, 2002). The most pervasive research interest in emotion within organizations has been on its downstream consequences. In addition to their influence on general well being and expressive behavior, emotional experiences feed into attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions, which are depicted together as post emotional responses. (Elfenbein, H. Anger, nd ). In addition to direct links between emotional states and behaviors, there si also indirect links to behavior that are mediated by intervening attitudes and cognitions (Eagly & Chaiken, 1998; Loewenstein & Lerner, 2003). Emotions have been argued to serve as positive or negative reinforcers for other individuals’ behavior (Klinnert, Campos, Sorce, Emde, & Svejda, 1983). More specifically, positive emotions may encourage others to continue their course of action, whereas negative emotions may serve as a call for behavioral adjustment (Averill, 1982; Cacioppo & Gardner, 1999; Van Kleef et al., 2004a). As we all know from personal experience, conflict and negotiation often bring about intense emotions, which may in turn strongly influence negotiation behavior and conflict development (Barry, Fulmer, & Van Kleef, 2004). To qualify as an emotion does not necessarily require fulfilling all conditions. Some emotions may lack hedonic quality, situational meaning or action tendencies (Christoph Merkle, 2007). The few studies that have addressed emotions other than anger and happiness indicate that emotions such as guilt, regret, disappointment, and worry, too, have theoretically meaningful interpersonal effects on negotiation behavior and conflict development. These discrete emotions signal specific information that may subsequently feed into negotiators’ strategic decision-making, and thereby affect their cooperative versus competitive tendencies (Gerben A. Van, 2010). A great variety of emotions, such as anger, happiness, guilt, regret, disappointment, and worry, have pervasive effects on negotiation behavior and conflict development (Gerben A. Van, 2010). Emotions provide important strategic information (e.g., limits, toughness), which may in turn influence observers’ behavior (Gerben A. Van, 2010).

Study 1:

An ordinal scale which was a 5 point likert type scale was developed for hypothesis testing. Initially developed scale was comprised of 19 items.4 items were developed for measuring organizational conflict,6 for intra-group processes and 9 for emotions. Items were constructed keeping in view some dimensions of variables, i.e 4 items of organizational conflict were established through intergenerational differences in the organizations,6 items of intra-group processes were constructed through transformational leadership influences and 9 items pertaining to emotions were developed through positive and negative dimensions of emotions.

To confirm the validity of the scale all those specific dimensions of variables were considered which had tremendously been accounted for in previous researches so as to meet the requirements of compatibility between the description of variables and items of the instrument. For initial pilot studies a sample size of 30 respondents was selected for data collection. Keeping in view the extent of generalizability desired, time and cost constraints, purpose of study and comparatively easy accessibility of respondents’ convenience sampling (non probability sampling technique) was used. Data was collected through self administered questionnaires and the respondents of the questionnaires were young and old, male and female employees of public and private sector organizations including of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

To check the reliability of the scale basic descriptive statistics including maximum, minimum, mean, inter item correlation, variance and alpha values were computed for each variable which are elaborated below.

Figure: 3.1:

Alpha value for items of organizational conflict was .551

Figure: 3.2:

Cronbach’s co efficient of alpha reliability was .677 for intra group processes.

Figure: 3.3:

Reliability statistic in terms of cronbach coefficient was .683 for items of emotions.Whereas overall reliability of scale was .670

Figure: 3.4:

Since sample size was small as it was taken for initial pilot testing therefore reliability statistics computed from data was although in the acceptable range but it was not strongly significant.

Study 2:

4.1 Method:

Initially developed 5 point likert type scale was used to conduct the survey on a large sample size.Data was collected through self administered questionnaires and respondents were made sure that all the information provided by them will be kept confidential. The data was collected from 130 employees of different public and private sector organizations of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. After manual scrutinization all those questionnaires in which patterns were observed or there was a clash in responses were discarded and 100 questionnaires were selected for final analysis.

4.2 Hypothesis:

Following hypothesis was finally considered for hypothesis testing:

H1: Organizational conflict has significant relationship with emotions.

H2: Intra-group processes moderate the relationship between organizational conflict and emotions

4.3 Operational definition

Organizational Conflict:

A conflict over scarce resources that arises between different(old and young) age groups having conflicting age norms, different educational backgrounds and work styles(traditional and modern) holding discriminatory behavior towards opposite age group.

Intra-group processes:

A leader who builds trust in their followers by going beyond his individual interests, acts with integrity (self control, optimism and high consideration for moral consequences of actions), inspires others, encourages innovative thinking and coaches people (individualized consideration).


Positive emotions are pleasing responses to a stimulus and can be defined as energizing attitude towards work, enhancement in the problem solving capabilities, motivational uplift, relief, joy and appraisal. Negative emotions are the responses in the shape of fear, anger, disturbance, disappointment, jealousy or dissatisfaction to adjust in the circumstances or surroundings.

For statistical analysis scrutinized data was processed through SPSS 13. For reliability analysis initially basic descriptive statistics including means, variances and correlations were computed. Besides that alpha values for each variable were computed. Alpha values for organizational conflict, intra group processes and emotions were 0.910, 0 .944 and 0.967 respectively while the overall reliability (of all the variables) in terms of alpha value was 0.982 as shown below.

Figure: 4.4:

Cronbach’s Alpha

Cronbach’s Alpha Based on Standardized Items

N of Items




Regression and correlation were also computed for analysis. To see the relationship between organizational conflict (independent variable) and emotions (dependent variable) regression was run, Annova and regression co efficient were computed. Beta value of organizational conflict was 0.930 at 0.001 level of significance with t- value of 3.492 and Annova results are as follows.

Figure: 4.5:



Sum of Squares


Mean Square

















a. Predictors: (Constant), Organizational Conflict

b. Dependent Variable: Emotions

This reveals that there is a significant relationship between organizational conflict and emotions. To see the moderating influence of intra group processes on the relationship between organizational conflict and emotions computations of regression analysis in a stepwise fashion were as follows.

Figure: 4.6:

Figure: 4.7:

The above mentioned results reveal that there is a significant relationship between intra group processes and organizational conflict as well as between emotions and intra group processes which verify the strong influence of intra-group processes on the relation ship between organizational conflict and emotions.

To verify whether the relationship between the variables is original in nature or this is due to interference of other related variables we run collinearity diagnostics. Condition index for colinearity was 1.00 and 9.192 respectively for dimensions which reveal strong interdependence between the variables and weak interference of other variables on the relationship

Figure: 4.8


Our exploratory research work for studying the relationship between organizational conflict and emotions was conduted in two phases. In the initial phase of pilot testing data collected from 30 respondents was analysed through SPSS 13. Results of initial analysis were not very much significant but the results were in an acceptable range to establish the existence of the relationship between organizational conflict and emotions as well as moderating impact of intra group processes because of inter item correlation and basic descriptive statistics. To confirm the relationship among the variables defined in the second phase survey was conducted on a larger sample of 130 respondents who were employees of different public and private sector organizations including males and females belonging to top ,middle and bottom level of hierarichal structure. The results of data sample of 100 scrutinized instruments showed that there is significant relationship

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