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A new look at conict styles: goal orientation and outcome preferences

Tal G. Zarankin
Department of Management, College of Business, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide new insights into conict styles by examining a new set of antecedents and outcomes. Design/methodology/approach A theory is outlined and a theoretical model is presented to explain the relationship between a motivational antecedent goal orientation and conict styles, and to explain the relationship between conict styles and resolution preferences. Findings The paper suggests that goal orientation serves as an antecedent for subsequent conict style. Moreover, resolution preferences vary depending on goal orientation and conict style. Research limitations/implications This paper has several implications for future research. Empirical research is needed to investigate the relationship between goal orientation and conict styles as well as the relationship between conict style and outcome preferences. Such research may either provide grounding to the model or generate further theory development regarding the antecedents and outcomes of conict styles. Practical implications This paper suggests that goal orientations are relatively stable but that conict styles are relatively mutable. This suggests that if people become aware of their goal orientation, they can change their conict style to achieve a solution that is more appropriate for their unique situation. Originality/value This paper lls a gap in the literature and offers a new theoretical framework as to the antecedents and outcomes of conict styles. The paper offers a motivational explanation for conict styles and examines resolution preferences that could predict party satisfaction with the outcome. Keywords Conict management, Management skills, Conict resolution, Motivation (psychology), Management effectiveness Paper type Conceptual paper

A new look at conict styles

Received 30 May 2007 Accepted 27 September 2007

Conict, dened as a perception of incompatibility between values, needs, interests or actions (Deutsch, 1973; Putnam and Poole, 1987; Wall and Callister, 1995), is an inherent part of our daily life, both at work and in other settings. Regardless of context, the ways people deal with conict, or their conict style, play a critical role in shaping both the outcome of the conict and the future relationship between the parties. There has been extensive research on the crucial role that conict styles play in different domains. For example, research has demonstrated the profound effects of conict styles on issues such as effectiveness in negotiations (Shell, 2001), the ongoing
The author would like to extend special thanks to Dr Christopher Robert for his comments on an earlier version of this paper. Thanks are also offered to Dr Daniel Turban, Dr Thomas Dougherty, Dr Richard Posthuma, and two anonymous reviewers, for their valuable comments and ideas.
International Journal of Conict Management Vol. 19 No. 2, 2008 pp. 167-184 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1044-4068 DOI 10.1108/10444060810856094

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experience of conict in the workplace (Friedman et al., 2000), the appearance of competence and leadership (Gross and Guerrero, 2000), and perceived stress (Brewer et al., 2002). This wealth of research demonstrates the importance of conict styles in effectively approaching and solving conicts. However, the conict styles literature suffers from two major gaps that I address in this paper. First, researchers disagree about the antecedents of conict styles. Some attribute conict styles to relatively stable factors, such as personality types (for example, Friedman et al., 2000), while others attribute conict styles to more idiosyncratic contextual factors, such as the setting or the parties position within the organization (Brewer et al., 2002). In this paper I suggest a motivational explanation for conict styles, according to which individuals orientations toward different kinds of achievement goals affect their conict styles. Examining goal orientation (a motivational factor) as a main antecedent for conict style is appropriate because conict styles are essentially behavioral patterns and motivation is typically dened as the forces that initiate and sustain behavior (Geen, 1995; Pinder, 1998). The second major gap in the literature concerns the other end of the conict process: the resolution. A fundamental question that lacks a theoretical answer is: What factors affect satisfaction with the outcome of the conict? Of course, one obvious signal that a conict is formally resolved is an agreement that ends discussion or negotiation about the conict. However, despite such an agreement, one or both parties may be displeased with the resolution and may still view the conict as unresolved. The parties satisfaction with the resolution is important for several other reasons. First, the primary rationale for studying conict and its resolution is to understand how to manage conicts better and how to reach the best possible outcome. To date, however, research has focused mainly on types of conicts and on the specic outcomes of unresolved conict, rather than on the parties satisfaction with the outcome of the conict resolution process. When scholars have looked at party satisfaction, they have established a relationship between different conict styles and party satisfaction, but without offering an explanation for why this relationship exists (Kleinman et al., 2003; Bacon and Blyton, 2007). To address this gap, I suggest examining resolution preferences and comparing these preferences to the actual conict resolution in order to assess satisfaction in a more objective manner. As I will discuss later, resolution preferences are directly related to conict styles, and examining those preferences as precursors to satisfaction with the outcome does provide a theoretical explanation for the relationship between conict styles and satisfaction with the outcome. In this article, I suggest a theoretical model that addresses the two gaps mentioned above (see Figure 1). According to the model, motivational factors achievement goals are positively related to conict styles. The premise of this part of the model is that a conict is an achievement-relevant situation, and therefore examining achievement motivation is crucial for understanding subsequent behavior. Second, the model suggests that conict styles are positively related to peoples resolution preferences for either distributive or integrative solutions. When people adopt certain behavioral styles, they also expect to achieve certain types of outcomes. For example, highly collaborative individuals strive to achieve a more integrative outcome and are satised if they achieve such an outcome. On the other hand, more

A new look at conict styles


Figure 1. A model for the antecedents of conict styles and the preferred outcomes associated with conict styles

dominating individuals strive to achieve an outcome that favors them and thus are satised if they perceive that they have achieved a distributive outcome one that primarily addresses their concerns. In sum, the model I present in this article suggests that motivational goals or goal orientations affect conict styles, and that conict styles affect the preferred outcome for each individual. In the next paragraphs, I review the relevant literatures and explain the rationale of the suggested model. Conict styles Conict style is a construct that has received attention in a wide range of disciplines, including negotiation, mediation, communication, psychology, and management. In this section, I review the main issues that appear in the literature: the denition and nature of conict styles, their measurement and assessment, and their antecedents and outcomes. There seems to be no consensus about the exact denition or nature of conict style. One central question is whether conict styles are relatively stable or rather more malleable. Moberg (2001, p. 47) denes conict styles as specic behavioral patterns that one prefers to employ when addressing conict situations. In other words, Moberg views a conict style as a product of cognitive processes people engage in to choose the most effective strategy to deal with a conict. Shell (2001) and others, on the other hand, view conict styles as predispositions toward behavior in conict situations and argue that these predispositions are driven by relatively stable personality traits. The major focus of the literature on conict styles is on differentiating among different conict styles, or measuring and assessing conict styles. Blake and Mouton (1964) introduced a two-dimensional conict management model that was the basis for numerous later models for assessing and conceptualizing conict and bargaining behavior. Blake and Mouton suggested that two dimensions concern for self-interest

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and concern for the other party or for the relationship create ve distinct types of conict management style: (1) collaborating (sometimes labeled integrating); (2) forcing (sometimes labeled competing); (3) accommodating; (4) avoiding (sometimes labeled withdrawing); and (5) compromising. Later work has empirically conrmed the relationships between the dual-concerns model and the ve conict styles (Sorenson et al., 1999). In terms of Blake and Moutons framework, collaborating is characterized by a high concern for ones own interests and a high concern for the interests of the other. Consequently, people who adopt a collaborative conict style strive to resolve a conict in a way that would take into account both parties interests and concerns. Forcing is characterized by high concern for ones interests but low concern for the interests of the other party. Consequently, people who have a forcing style manage a conict with primarily their own interests in mind, and they strive to achieve a resolution that reects that priority. Accommodating is characterized by a low concern for ones own interests but a high concern for the others interests. People with an accommodating style would rather concede or agree to a resolution that addresses the other partys interests than strive for a resolution that addresses their own concerns. Avoiding is characterized by low concern for ones interests and low concern for the interests of the other party. This style simply drives people to avoid conict altogether rather than to engage in a resolution process. Finally, compromising is characterized by an intermediate concern for both the interests of the self and those of others. People with a compromising conict style seek a compromise solution that addresses at least some of both parties concerns (Aquino, 2000; Brewer et al., 2002). Scholars agree that conict styles are a major factor in determining how effectively people can manage negotiations or conict toward a desired outcome. For example, Shell (2001) argues that the great importance and relevance of conict styles stems from their ability to predict effectiveness in resolving conict in different situations and to determine attitudes and emotions toward the conict resolution process. Other scholars go a step further to argue that, in the organizational context, conict styles have a broader impact than strictly on the result of the conict itself. For example, Friedman et al. (2000) argue that conict styles may affect the amount of conict employees experience at work and in turn the amount of stress they experience. Similarly, Brewer et al. (2002) argue that conict management skills are imperative for effective individual performance at any level within organizations. Gross and Guerrero (2000, p. 200) also concluded that conict styles are linked to perceived competence. Those who manage conict effectively are generally seen as competent communicators and capable leaders. Other scholars link conict styles to aggressiveness and abusive behaviors in the workplace, arguing that a forcing conict style promotes such behaviors (see, e.g. Rogan and France, 2003; Aquino, 2000). A major debate that emerges from the conict styles literature and that is directly relevant to this article concerns the antecedents of conict styles and the stability of conict styles over time. Some scholars argue that conict styles are related to

relatively stable personality traits. For example, Utley et al. (1989) argue that in some cases personality factors, such as the need for achievement, dominance, or social desirability, are linked to conict style choices. Other scholars assert that conict styles are closely linked to personality traits such as the Big Five personality types (see, e.g. Friedman et al., 2000; Moberg, 2001; Shell, 2001). Others argue that situational factors are antecedents of conict styles. For example, Brewer et al. (2002) conclude the higher people are in organizational status, the more likely they are to use the integrating style; while lower status individuals are more likely to use the avoiding or accommodating styles. Friedman et al. (2000) also mention factors such as conict type (e.g. interpersonal vs. inter-organizational) and the identity of the parties (e.g. a spouse vs. a co-worker) as potential situational factors that inuence conict style choice. Another view that emerges from the literature emphasizes the close link between culture and conict styles. In comparing American and Arab Middle-Eastern executives, Elsayed (1996) concludes that different cultural dimensions (especially the collectivism-individualism dimension) affect choices of conict management style. For example, Elsayed concludes that Arab Middle-Eastern executives, who belong to a more collectivistic and hierarchical society than American executives, tend to adopt more integrating and avoiding conict styles as compared with American executives, who tend to adopt more obliging, compromising, and dominating styles. In this paper I conceptualize conict styles as behavioral patterns that people are predisposed toward but that are more malleable than stable. I argue that people choose how to react or behave in a conict situation based on a cognitive process in which they decide whether they are more concerned with their own interests or with the interests of the other person, or equally concerned with both parties interests. Viewing conict styles as a result of a cognitive process is also more compatible with Blake and Moutons (1964) dual concerns model. According to Blake and Moutons model, when people confront a conict, they make a cognitive choice in determining their concerns in that particular conict. Following that cognitive process, people exhibit behaviors that are consistent with their concerns. Another empirical study that supports the view that conict styles are mutable is Conrads (1991). Conrad found that the relationship between conict style and behavior could change depending on situational factors. One potential interpretation of this nding is that people can also change their conict styles depending on different situational factors (e.g. the power relationship with the other person). In the next section, I discuss the goal orientation literature and develop the rationale for the proposed relationship between goal orientations and conict styles. Goal orientation The history of goal orientation theory Researchers approach to the eld of achievement motivation in general and achievement goals in particular has developed signicantly over the past 40 years. The classical approach to achievement motivation from the late 1950s and early 1960s originated from Atkinsons model of achievement behavior (Atkinson, 1957). Atkinson viewed achievement behavior as a conscious and linear choice people make about approaching success or avoiding failure, and proposed a mathematical model for achievement motivation and behavior (Atkinson, 1957). Atkinsons model

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included a formula designed to predict achievement-related behaviors: Ta Ts Taf, where Ta is the tendency to achieve (i.e. to approach success or avoid failure), Ts is achievement behavior, and Taf is tendency to avoid failure. According to this formula, when achievement behavior is greater than the tendency to avoid failure, people will tend to approach success; and when the tendency to avoid failure is greater than the tendency to approach success, people will tend to avoid challenging situations in order to avoid failure. In the eld of educational psychology in the mid-1980s, Dweck and Leggett (1988) and her colleagues developed the theory of goal orientation as a cognitive approach that focuses on goals people adopt in achievement situations (Reeve, 2005, p. 170). About a decade later, goal orientation theory was introduced to the organizational science literature, framed similarly as a theory that explains individuals cognitive frameworks for approaching achievement situations. Denition and basic framework Achievement goals were originally dened as the mental antecedents of achievement-relevant behavior (see, for example, Elliot and Harackiewicz, 1996, p. 461). In other words, goal orientation is a cognitive schema for interpreting and responding to achievement-relevant situations. Because goal orientation research began in an educational setting, researchers focused on the achievement-relevant context of school exams. Later, when goal orientation entered the organizational literature, researchers studied job interviews, job training, and work-related tasks as achievement-relevant situations. I argue that conict, regardless of setting, is also an achievement-relevant situation because it involves the same elements. College exams, job interviews, job training, and other work-related tasks, all previously regarded as achievement-relevant situations, involve some challenge and some evaluation (either self-evaluation or evaluation from the environment). Conict, too, involves those elements. The incompatibility between ones own interests, ideas or actions and those of another creates a challenge to resolve that incompatibility. The outcome of the conict is then subject to evaluation both from the self and from the environment. For example, consider a task conict (a conict about how to perform a work-related task) between co-workers A and B. This situation presents a problem, and the parties are challenged to resolve it somehow. Assume that the conict ends in an agreement to accept As opinion. A will evaluate this outcome as favorable to him and as an achievement on his part. On the other hand, B will feel either that his initial suggestion was not appropriate or that the outcome is not appropriate. Either way, parties evaluate the outcome of the conict. The research on the basic framework of achievement goals evolved in three stages. In the rst stage, scholars distinguished between two types or categories of goals: mastery or learning goals, and performance goals (Ames and Archer, 1988; Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Elliot and Dweck, 1988; Elliot and Church, 1997). According to the achievement goal literature, people with performance goals tend to evaluate their ability to perform different tasks relative to others. Thus, achieving a performance goal means doing better than others or better than a certain standard (Reeve, 2005). Performance goals, in the context of achievement, are associated with negative feelings toward challenging tasks (e.g. fear of failure), ineffective behaviors toward such tasks (e.g. disengaging), and lower achievement over time.

Mastery goals, on the other hand, are more intrinsic because they direct people to evaluate the progress they are making toward achievement rather than their ability compared with others. In other words, achieving a mastery goal means making progress (Reeve, 2005, p. 176). Mastery goals are generally associated with approaching or engaging in challenging tasks, maintaining persistence and increasing effort in such tasks, and attaining higher achievements in the long run. In the second stage, research indicated that performance goals could be divided into two subcategories: performance-approach and performance-avoidance (e.g. Elliot and Harackiewicz, 1996; Elliot and Church, 1997). According to this distinction, performance-approach goals are performance goals that direct people to engage in an achievement task for performance purposes (i.e. to prove one is competent), whereas performance-avoidance goals direct people to disengage for performance reasons (i.e. to avoid being perceived as incompetent). In the third stage, research indicated that the mastery goal orientation could also be partitioned into two subcategories: mastery-approach and mastery-avoidance. Elliot and McGregor (2001, p. 515) suggested that mastery-avoidance goals have a mixed antecedent prole. They have positive antecedents, such as perceiving a class as engaging and interesting, and negative factors, such as fear of failure and low self-determination. Mastery-approach goals, on the other hand, are rooted in purely positive antecedents, such as perceiving a class as engaging and interesting, perceiving intelligence as malleable, and having high self-determination. In other words, the authors concluded that the main difference between mastery-avoidance and mastery-approach goals is that mastery-avoidance goals are related to more negative antecedents than mastery-approach goals (although they are related to more positive antecedents than are performance-avoidance goals). In sum, the achievement goal literature supports four distinct achievement goal categories with different characteristics and consequences. Generally, researchers agree that mastery goals have more positive consequences than performance goals and, more specically, that the approach subcategories have more positive consequences than the avoidance subcategories (Reeve, 2005; Elliot and McGregor, 2001). The nature and antecedents of achievement goals A major consideration regarding the construct of goal orientation is its stability over time. A review of the goal orientation literature indicates that scholars are divided in their opinions and ndings in this regard. Some have concluded that a goal orientation is more stable than mutable, with antecedents such as personality traits (Hough, 1992), implicit theories about intelligence, cognitive ability (Eison, 1981), and implicit and explicit need for achievement (Elliot and Church, 1997; Thrash and Elliot, 2002). These antecedents are relatively stable traits or trait-like individual differences. For example, studies show that people who hold entity theories about intelligence, and view intelligence as a predetermined, xed trait, tend to adopt mastery goals. On the other hand, people who hold incremental theories about intelligence and view intelligence as a malleable trait tend to adopt performance goals (Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Elliot and McGregor, 2001). Another example of a relatively stable antecedent is the need for achievement. Thrash and Elliot (2002) concluded that implicit need for achievement was a positive predictor of mastery goals but was unrelated to the adoption of performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals. Implicit fear of failure was a positive predictor of

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both performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals, and was unrelated to mastery goals. Elliot and Church (1997) and Elliot and McGregor (2001) concluded that both students with high achievement motivation and those with high competence expectancy tended to adopt mastery goals. However, several researchers have also examined some contextual factors that affect goal orientation, and their ndings suggest that goal orientation is a more mutable construct. One such contextual antecedent, examined in the educational setting, is classroom environment. The literature indicates that the perceived classroom environment is also an antecedent for personal goal orientation. More specically, when students found their class engaging and interesting, and perceived that the emphasis of the class was on learning rather than on grades, and that the evaluation system was not excessively harsh, they tended to adopt a mastery goal orientation (Church et al., 2001; Elliot and McGregor, 2001; Wolters, 2004). Other evidence for the mutability of goal orientation comes from several laboratory studies in which researchers manipulated participants goal orientation (for example, Steele-Johnson et al., 2000). Of course, the researchers ability to manipulate participants goal orientation, even if in a laboratory setting, suggests that goal orientation is indeed mutable. In a recent meta-analysis, Payne et al. (2007) concluded that although the stability of goal orientation has yet to be established, most scholars to date conceptualize goal orientation as a disposition, and most empirical work to date has measured goal orientation as a trait-like individual difference variable. In this article I also consider goal orientation as a more stable construct: I believe that people are predisposed to pursue either performance goals or mastery goals, and that this predisposition is relatively stable over time. The consequences of goal orientation Another major research area within the achievement goal literature focuses on the consequences of achievement goals. In general, the literature indicates that achievement goals affect graded performance, performance aspirations, affect and attitudes toward tasks, and different behavior patterns such as studying strategies and help-seeking patterns. Regarding the effect of achievement goals on performance, the literature indicates that students who adopt performance-approach goals attain higher short-term achievements (higher grades) compared with students who adopt performance-avoidance goals. Generally, the literature also indicates that mastery goals are not correlated with short-term performance (Church et al., 2001; Elliot and Church, 1997; Harackiewicz et al., 2000; Elliot and McGregor, 2001). However, in the long run, mastery approach goals are related to performance. More specically, because individuals who are mastery-oriented construe failure as an opportunity for learning and growth, they persist in the face of failure until performance improves (Payne et al., 2007). As for the effect of achievement goals on general behavior patterns, the literature indicates that students who adopt learning or mastery goals tend to use adaptive learning strategies such as help-seeking and brainstorming, whereas students who adopt performance goals tend to use maladaptive learning strategies such as procrastination (Kaplan and Midgley, 1997; Ames and Archer, 1988; Elliot et al., 1999; Harackiewicz et al., 2000).

In adults, research indicates that goal orientation is a predictor of several important workplace behaviors, such as feedback-seeking and training participation and effectiveness. More specically, research found that people who adopt a learning-goal orientation seek feedback that focuses on self-improvement, rather than the information focused on self-validation that performance-oriented people seek (Janssen and Prins, 2007). As for training effectiveness, research indicates that a learning-goal orientation predicts successful training in employees within different contexts (Tziner et al., 2007). As for the effect of achievement goals on affect and attitudes toward tasks, the literature indicates that mastery and performance-approach goals direct people to perceive a given task (e.g. an exam) as a challenge, whereas students with performance-avoidance goals are more likely to perceive the same task as a threat (Mcgregor and Elliot, 2002). Similarly, scholars found that performance-avoidance goals positively predict test anxiety, whereas performance-approach and mastery goals are unrelated to anxiety. Harackiewicz et al. (2000) found that achievement goals are related to the amount of short- and long-term enjoyment and interest students feel toward an ongoing task. More specically, they found that students who had a mastery goal orientation reported high interest and enjoyment in the introductory psychology course and tended to take additional psychology courses. Performance goals were found unrelated to interest and enjoyment of the course. Goal orientation as an antecedent of conict styles After establishing the characteristics of goal orientations and conict styles, I now turn to discussing the relationship between the two. In general, I argue that certain types of goal orientations elicit certain conict styles. Several authors have written about the effect of goals on conict resolution behaviors; however, very few have used the motivational framework that I use in this article. Rather, most authors have examined more specic goals, such as those specied by the multiple goal theory (for example, Fukushima and Ohbuchi, 1996; Ohbuchi et al., 1999). The main difference between the multiple goal theory and goal orientation theory is that while multiple goal theory considers specic goals, such as relationship or resource goals, goal orientation theory is a motivational theory that uses broad goal orientations (i.e. performance vs. mastery types of goals). Therefore, goal orientation theory adds a motivational explanation to behavior in conict situations that may apply to a wider range of situations than specic goals. Katz and Block (2000) were the rst to suggest a link between the motivational mastery/performance goal orientation framework and conict situations. Although Katz and Block did not examine the relationship between goal orientation and conict styles, they argue that peoples goal orientation affects their behaviors in conict situations. For example, the authors argue that people with a mastery goal orientation take more risks and offer more goodwill gestures in order to resolve a conict than do people with a performance goal orientation. Using the conict styles framework advances Katz and Blocks work because it offers a more parsimonious model for examining the relationship between goal orientation and conict behaviors. Thus, I now turn to the proposed relationship between goal orientation and conict styles.

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The theoretical justication for the goal orientation conict style relationship stems from the denition and nature of these two constructs. Achievement goals are goals that individuals pursue in achievement situations (e.g. Elliot and Dweck, 1988; Dweck and Leggett, 1988). Conict styles, as mentioned above, are behavioral patterns people engage in when they encounter conict. As I suggest above, conict is an achievement situation. When people perceive incompatibility between their values or interests and others, they are most likely to be either challenged or threatened by this situation (rather than to feel nothing at all). In any case, whether challenged or threatened, people who experience conict feel the need to resolve it or avoid it altogether. When people engage in conict resolution, they do so in different ways, as described by the conict styles theory. The important point here is that reducing conict is an achievement task or a situation where competence is relevant, and it therefore activates achievement goals (as does an examination at school). Recall that the goal orientation literature distinguishes between mastery and performance goals, and also between the subcategories performance-avoidance/ performance-approach and mastery-avoidance/mastery-approach. Generally, as mentioned earlier, people who pursue performance goals seek to maintain a positive judgment of their ability to perform by proving or documenting their ability. On the other hand, people who pursue mastery goals seek to improve their ability or to learn and master new skills. These general characteristics of conict styles and achievement goals suggest that people who adopt mastery goals should tend to adopt a collaborative, accommodating, or compromising conict style, rather than a forcing or avoidance style. The intrinsic motivation of learning and development that characterizes mastery goals is more compatible with styles that include a high level of concern for the interests of others, as in the case of the collaborative and accommodative styles, or at least an intermediate level of concern for others, as in the compromising style. A high or, at a minimum, an intermediate level of concern for the other is essential both for a meaningful interaction in conict and for achieving a high joint gain in conict resolution. In other words, people who are interested in learning something (e.g. about the perspective of the other party) or improving some aspect of themselves (e.g. their listening skills or empathy) in the process of resolving a conict will have an intermediate or high concern for others. Thus, they will adopt a collaborating, accommodating, or compromising conict style that reects these levels of concern for others. P1. People who adopt mastery goals also adopt collaborating, accommodating, or compromising conict styles.

On the other hand, people who adopt performance goals should also tend to adopt avoiding or forcing conict styles that involve a low concern for others and a high concern for self. These conict styles are more compatible with the motivation that drives people to demonstrate their competence and, in the context of conict, to prove that they are right or that they can come out of the conict in a better situation than their counterpart. In other words, people who are not interested in learning or in self-improvement in conict, but rather are simply interested in ending the conict either by forcing their views on their counterpart or by avoiding the matter, can be

expected to adopt avoiding or forcing, the conict styles that reect low or no concern for others. P2. People who adopt performance goals also adopt forcing or avoiding conict styles.

A new look at conict styles

The approach-avoidance dimension that was added later to the basic framework of achievement goals leads to more specic predictions regarding the relationship between achievement goals and conict styles. As for the distinction between mastery-approach and mastery-avoidance goals, recall Elliot and McGregor (2001) assertion that mastery-avoidance goals have a mixed antecedent prole. Although people who hold mastery-avoidance goals are engaged and interested in learning, what drives their engagement is the fear of appearing incompetent rather than the desire to learn and progress. The mastery-avoidance goal orientation ts a compromising conict style because compromising also includes a mixed concern prole: an intermediate concern for both self and others. People who have an intermediate concern for both their own interests and the interests of their counterpart are engaged because of the stakes related to their interests. However, because of their equally powerful concern for their counterpart, they are more willing to compromise than to engage in a collaborative effort to nd the best outcome (collaborative style) or to force a solution that is favorable to them (forcing style). People who adopt mastery-approach goals, on the other hand, are motivated to improve their skills, not because of a fear of failure but rather because of a wish to improve (positive valence). I propose that those who are more mastery-approach oriented also tend to be more collaborative or accommodative. People who are motivated by a desire to improve their skills and learn from a conict (mastery-approach goal) are more likely to engage in conict management (rather than to avoid dealing with conict) and place more importance on achieving the best possible outcome for both parties than on fullling only their own interests. Achieving the best possible outcome might involve either a high concern for self and for the other person, resulting in a collaborative style, or a high concern for the other and a low concern for the self, resulting in an accommodating style. P3. P4. People who adopt mastery-avoidance goals tend to adopt avoiding or compromising conict styles. People who adopt mastery-approach goals tend to adopt accommodative or collaborative conict styles.


As for the distinction between performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals, recall that performance-approach goals direct people to seek proof of their abilities while performance-avoidance goals direct people to avoid performing poorly or below a certain standard (whether external or internal). People who are more performance-approach oriented should tend to adopt a forcing style, whereas people who are more performance-avoidance oriented should adopt an avoiding style. As with the t between mastery-approach/-avoidance and the corresponding conict styles, the avoidance pattern directs performance-oriented people to be more detached from their counterparts compared with an approach pattern. The avoiding style reects a low concern for ones own interests and a low concern for the interests of

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others, and therefore, by nature, leads people to disengage from conict. Thus, the avoiding style is a good t with the performance-avoidance goal orientation. The forcing style, on the other hand, involves a high concern for ones own interests and a low concern for the interests of others. People who adopt a forcing style see conict as a win-lose situation, in which one persons gain is the others loss, and engage in conict in order to win. This style thus is a good t with the performance-approach goal orientation. P5. P6. People who adopt performance-approach goals tend to adopt forcing conict styles. People who adopt performance-avoidance goals tend to adopt avoiding conict styles.

Conict styles and resolution preferences In this section I discuss the resolution part of the conict management process in order to clarify how peoples conict styles affect their resolution preferences. Knowing someones resolution preferences may not be very useful in and of itself; however, it allows us to predict and understanding satisfaction from the outcome of the conict. The assumption is that people will be satised with the outcome of the conict if it matches their resolution preferences. Satisfaction with the outcome is important because if people are not satised with the outcome, they do not view the conict as fully resolved. This lack of resolution can lead to a variety of negative consequences for the future of the relationship between the parties. The threat of dissatisfaction with the outcome of a conict is higher, of course, for ongoing relationships (such as those between co-workers, spouses, or neighbors) than for relationships that are limited in time (such as those between a merchant and a customer in a one-time transaction). In ongoing relationships, it is imperative that both parties view a conict as fully resolved before encountering other conicts; otherwise, such relationships become conict-ridden and face a greater risk of dissolving. Low satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the outcome of a conict may also affect relationships that are more limited in time and scope, such as those between two parties involved in a one-time transaction (e.g. a consumer and a sales representative in an appliance store or a professor and a student in a short summer course). A client dissatised with the resolution of a conict with a merchant might hesitate to recommend that merchant to other people. A student dissatised with the resolution of a conict with a professor might suffer from decreased motivation in the course and potentially in other courses as well. In discussing the link between conict resolution and party satisfaction, the literature has focused mainly on the impact of the conict on the individuals overall satisfaction with their group, their job, or their organization (see, for example, Jehn, 1995, 1997). Surprisingly, relatively few articles discuss satisfaction with the outcome of the conict. Moreover, articles that do discuss this matter report different ndings. In one study, Kleinman et al. (2003) examined how conict styles affect satisfaction with the outcome of the conict. The authors found that collaboration is positively related to satisfaction with the outcome and that avoidance is negatively related with outcome satisfaction. The authors did not nd a signicant relationship between the other conict styles and outcome satisfaction.

In a different study, Bacon and Blyton (2007) examined the inuence of bargaining tactics on group members satisfaction with the outcome of labor negotiations. Contrary to Kleinman et al. (2003), the authors found that when groups adopted more conictual or distributive bargaining tactics, members reported greater satisfaction with the outcome of the agreement reached. Members of groups that adopted more cooperative techniques, on the other hand, reported less satisfaction with the outcome. The articles discussed above show some empirical evidence that conict styles affect party satisfaction, but they do not provide a good explanation for why conict styles are related to party satisfaction with the outcome. In this article, instead of focusing on outcome satisfaction, I focus on parties resolution preferences, because I argue that conict styles directly impact those preferences; thus, comparing those preferences with the actual solution provides a better indication of satisfaction. In other words, rather than concluding, for example, that people are more satised when they are collaborative, I suggest that when people adopt a collaborative style they prefer a certain type of agreement. Their satisfaction with the solution depends largely on whether they actually achieve this type of agreement. This explanation provides a more complete picture of why people are satised with the outcome of their conict. In the following paragraphs I discuss the rationale for specic propositions about the relationship between conict styles and resolution preferences. I suggest that different conict styles relate to three types of resolutions: (1) distributive; (2) integrative; and (3) integrative with priority to other party. A distributive agreement is achieved by coercion and the use of power. It focuses mainly on one partys interests and concerns, and favors that party over the other party. An integrative agreement is achieved by negotiation and joint effort, and addresses both parties concerns and interests equally. In this scenario, both parties manage to reach a mutually agreeable solution without having to signicantly compromise their interests. An integrative agreement with priority to other party is also achieved by negotiation and takes into consideration both parties interests and concerns, but it favors one party over the other. In this scenario, one party makes a signicantly larger concession than the other party in order to achieve an agreement. As mentioned earlier, people with forcing conict styles are concerned primarily with their own interests and they strive to outperform the other party in a conict. Therefore, they prefer and try to achieve an agreement that is clearly favorable to them one that addresses primarily their concerns. This type of agreement is distributive. P7. People who adopt a forcing conict style prefer and strive to achieve a distributive resolution, one that they perceive as clearly favorable to them.

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People who adopt a collaborative conict style are highly concerned with both their own interests and those of the other party. They collaborate with the other party in an effort to nd a resolution that not only is mutually agreeable to both parties but also entertains both parties interests. This is different from a compromise, in which both parties give up some of their interests or expectations to reach a mutually agreeable solution with the other party. Therefore, people who adopt a collaborative conict style

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prefer and strive to achieve an integrative outcome one that fully satises both parties interests. P8. People who adopt a collaborating style prefer and strive to achieve an integrative solution, one that takes into account both parties interests and concerns.


The accommodating and compromising conict styles are similar in that they involve some degree of concern for both parties interests: people who adopt either of these styles care about their own concerns, but they care more for the concerns of the other party (the accommodating style more so than the compromising style). Therefore, people who adopt accommodating or compromising conict styles prefer an outcome that is integrative that it takes into account both parties concerns even if it is somewhat more favorable to the other party. P9. People who adopt either an accommodating or a compromising conict style tend to prefer an integrative outcome, even if the outcome primarily satises the other parties concerns.

Several examples will clarify the propositions suggested above. Consider two co-workers in conict about how to perform a task at work. Assume party A has a performance-approach goal orientation and party B has a mastery-approach goal orientation. According to the suggested model, party A will adopt a forcing conict style, while party B will adopt either a collaborating or an accommodating conict style. Party A will prefer and strive to achieve a solution that is more favorable to him than to the party B in other words, that both parties agree to perform the task the way he (party A) suggested. Party B, however, will prefer and strive to achieve a solution that integrates both parties suggestions of how to perform the task even if the agreement is somewhat more in line with party As suggestions or positions. This is so because party B, in this scenario, has either a collaborating or an accommodating style, both of which should lead to integrative agreements. Now, assume that while party A still has a performance-approach goal orientation, party B has either a performance-avoidance goal orientation or a mastery-avoidance goal orientation (instead of a mastery-approach goal orientation). In this scenario, the model suggests that party B will adopt either an avoiding or a compromising conict style. If party B adopts an avoiding style, it is meaningless to speculate on his preferred resolution type, because a resolution will probably not be reached owing to Bs avoiding confrontation. If party B adopts a compromising conict style, he will prefer and strive to achieve a resolution that addresses, at a minimum, the interests of the other party (party A). In our example, party B will be satised if he perceives that the agreement is acceptable at least to party A. Party As outcome preference remains unchanged in this scenario. (Party A will prefer a solution that he perceives as more favorable to him than to party B.) Discussion In this paper I have proposed a model that offers a new way of looking at conict styles in terms of their antecedents and their outcomes. The antecedents I propose goal orientations are borrowed from the eld of social psychology and are motivational constructs. In general, I suggest that people who have a mastery goal orientation tend to

adopt a collaborating, accommodating, or compromising conict style, whereas people who have a performance goal orientation tend to adopt a forcing or avoiding conict style. I also proposed looking at peoples preferences concerning the type of solution they achieve as a way to predict satisfaction with the outcome of the conict. I suggest that peoples conict styles directly inuence their resolution preferences. More specically, I suggest that people who adopt a forcing style prefer a distributive outcome, people who adopt a collaborative style prefer an integrative solution that equally fullls both parties concerns, and people who adopt accommodating or compromising conict styles prefer integrative outcomes that might be more favorable to the other party. Beyond its theoretical value offering a new theoretical explanation for the antecedents and outcomes of conict styles the model also has practical value. According to the model, if people know their goal orientation, they can predict their behavior in a conict situation and the outcome they will strive for. Based on the view that conict styles are mutable, people can then try to alter their behavior if they think a different conict style and a different type of outcome are more benecial to them. For example, when people have a conict with someone with whom they have a lasting relationship, such as a co-worker or a family member, it might be more benecial for them to adopt a collaborative style even though they are predisposed to adopt a forcing style. Knowing their predispositions based on their goal orientation is necessary in order to make such a change. Knowing what kind of outcome is likely to follow each conict style is also benecial in this situation. An organization that depends highly on teamwork might benet from employees with collaborative conict styles because the ability to resolve conict collaboratively and reach integrative solutions is imperative to a teams cohesiveness and performance. Thus, managers in such organizations might want to design training programs to help employees determine their goal orientations and adopt collaborative conict styles. Future research should examine the model proposed here empirically, in order to provide grounding for the model or to encourage generation of alternative conceptual models. Two factors that could affect the model presented here but that were beyond the scope of this article are national culture and context. As mentioned previously, several researchers have found that culture affects peoples conict styles. One consistent nding in this regard is that people from collectivistic cultures tend to use the collaborating style more than people from individualistic cultures (see, e.g. Elsayed, 1996; Posthuma et al., 2006). This relationship between culture and conict may affect the relationships proposed in the theoretical model presented in this paper. For example, if individuals from collectivistic cultures tend to adopt a collaborative conict style, according to the model, they will also prefer an integrative resolution. On the other hand, if individuals from individualistic cultures tend to prefer more confrontational conict styles (e.g. forcing), they will also tend to prefer an outcome that is more distributive. A closely related issue that is beyond the scope of this article but is an important avenue for further investigation is the relationship between culture and the adoption of achievement goals. For example, do goal orientations in collectivistic cultures differ from those in individualistic cultures? Investigating this matter is important because is might add to our knowledge of the antecedents of conict styles and the relationship between culture and motivation. Context is also potentially relevant to the model discussed in this article and should be investigated in future research. More specically, the question arises whether

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different contexts, such as the workplace, the community, the family, etc. affect the adoption of different conict styles. For example, would family members in conict tend to adopt conict styles different from those of employees in a workplace? If culture and context do affect the choice of conict styles a related question is how culture and contexts interact to inuence behavioral choices in conict. More specically, what would happen in a situation in which a cultural factor motivates people to adopt a certain conict style, but a situational factor motivates a different style? Would either culture or context prevail, or would people in this situation defer to their natural disposition guided by their goal orientation? These important questions remain open for future investigation.
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