A Multi-method Investigation of the Relationship between Intra-team Values, Conflict and Trust

Ju-Li Ng (2010). A Multi-method Investigation of the Relationship between Intra-team Values, Conflict and Trust PhD Thesis, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ju-Li Ng
Thesis Title A Multi-method Investigation of the Relationship between Intra-team Values, Conflict and Trust
School, Centre or Institute UQ Business School
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Oluremi (Remi) Ayoko
Dr Andre Pekerti
Total pages 287
Total colour pages 11
Total black and white pages 276
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary ABSTRACT Values serve as the guiding mechanism for behaviours and operate at different organisational levels. While there has been sustained interest in the study of organisational values over the years, the majority of these studies focused on how value congruity (or incongruity) affects organisational variables such as performance and productivity. Additionally, scholars continue to compartmentalise the study of values, focusing on individual, team and organisational levels as the units of analysis, while neglecting the cross-level effects of values. Thus, limited research has examined the process by which specific individual values impact team values and how these values drive behaviours to impact conflict. Along the same line, while conflict researchers identify trust as an important variable in the outcomes for workplace conflict, there is an emerging paradigm shift in conflict literature suggesting that conflict may be an antecedent and beneficial to trust. This thesis attempts to address these conceptual gaps. Anchored in Social Exchange Theory (SET) and drawing on values, conflict and trust literature over three studies, the present research develops and tests a cross-level model of the relationship between values, conflict and trust in organisational teams. Specifically, the thesis proposes that individual values (self-direction, achievement and benevolence) will influence the team values of team orientation and outcome orientation, while the values at the team level will influence the different dimensions of conflict (task, relationship and process). These, in turn, will impact different dimensions of trust (calculus, knowledge, and identification-based trust). A multi-method research design was employed in data collection to ascertain the hypothesised relationships in the proposed model for this research program. First, Study 1 explored the issues of workplace values, conflict and trust using in-depth interviews with 45 team members and leaders from two Australian organisations. The interviews revealed three forms of cross-level effects of values: top-down, bottom-up and an amalgamation of the two. Additionally, the interviewers indicated that the interplay between conflict and trust is multi-faceted, while communication was identified as an important tool in building trust when there is conflict. Study 2 employed observations, longitudinal open-ended surveys and post-observation interviews to further extricate the effects of conflict on the perception of trust in teams. Team processes of five postgraduate student work teams in a large public university were observed while these students were working on their assignment over a period of ten weeks. Data for Study 2 were analysed using Bales Interaction Process Analysis (IPA) (1951). Study 2 demonstrated that the influence of conflict on trust has temporal properties implying a dynamic association between conflict and trust. Study 2 also revealed that task conflict was linked with Knowledge-based Trust (KBT), while the presence of relationship and process conflict triggered both Identification-based Trust (IBT) and Calculus-based trust (CBT). Similarly, Study 2 findings identified task-oriented communication, positive socio-emotional communication and control mechanisms as buffers to protect trust and to build trust in the face of conflict. Overall, findings from Study 1 and Study 2 assisted in refining the preliminary research model. Finally, Study 3 quantitatively tested the hypothesised relationships in the proposed model with a sample of 237 leaders and team members from five Australian organisations. Using STATA 11.0 and Bootstrapping to examine the predictive ability and generalisability of the hypothesised relationships between variables depicted on the conceptual model, findings show that although there was no significant path between individual values and team outcome orientation value, individual values (self-direction, achievement and benevolence) positively predicted team orientation values. Team orientation values were negatively associated with task, relationship and process conflict and these, in turn, successfully mediated the relationship between team orientation and the different dimensions of trust as hypothesized. Finally, conflict (task, relationship and process) were negatively related with KBT and IBT. Taken together, the present research has made six significant contributions. First, it has made a theoretical contribution to values literature, as this is the first time that a cross-level effect of individual values on team values has been investigated. Second, results of the current research explicate the process by which shared values and specific values trigger conflict. Third, this research is among the first to empirically document the effects of different forms of conflict on different dimensions of trust, and evidence from Study 1 and Study 2 suggests that conflict can impact trust positively. The current research, therefore, is one of the pioneers of research on the reverse proposition that conflict may be beneficial for trust. Fourth, and methodologically, this is the first time that an IPA framework has been extended to code the unique characteristics of disclosure and conflict. Fifth, the research highlights the usefulness of multi-method research to understand the complex relationship between values, conflict and trust. Finally, the research contributes to the management of values, conflict and trust by espousing that positive socio-emotional communication, task-oriented communication and setting control mechanisms can have a significant impact on trust in the face of conflict. Keywords values, conflict, trust, multilevel, team processes Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classifications (ANZSRC) 150311 Organisational Behaviour (70%) 150305 Human Resources Management (20%) 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified (10%)
Keyword values, conflict, trust, multilevel, team processes
Additional Notes Coloured pages: 65, 93, 100, 101, 102, 233, 235, 236, 247, 249, 251.

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Created: Fri, 29 Apr 2011, 12:05:38 EST by Ms Ju-li Ng on behalf of Library - Information Access Service