Conflict Resolution Strategies and Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Moderating Role of Trait Emotional Intelligence

Article excerpt

Over the years, several studies have linked conflict resolution with work performance or work indicators (attitudes) (Alper, Law, & Tjosvold, 2000; Meyer, 2004; Ogungbamila, 2006). The federal government's implementation of the monetization policy and organizational changes/restructuring engendered much interpersonal conflict between workers and managers in several organizations in Nigeria because the workers' unions felt they did not have enough involvement in the exercise (Adebayo, 2006). However, the attitudes of public service workers in Nigeria following a conflict resolution process have not been adequately investigated. Such workers' attitudes may mediate the relationship between conflict resolution and work indicators or outcomes.

The choice of public service workers in Nigeria was informed by the fact that many public enterprises have undergone organizational changes and restructuring in order to improve operational efficiency and competitiveness. These organizational changes and restructuring have resulted in the retrenchment of many workers in the public service (Adebayo, 2006). The retrenchment had grave psychological consequences for both laid-off workers and the survivors of layoffs who remained on the job. The workers' union's strikes negotiations, protests, and pleas did stop the government from continuing with the retrenchment.

It is possible that the management of most government ministries and firms used a combination of conflict resolution strategies to resolve the conflicts that arose. The consequence for the survivors of the layoffs was job insecurity. The survivors of the layoffs had been reported to have experienced anxiety about losing their jobs, lower morale, decreased loyalty, distrust, reduced productivity, creativity, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) (Adebayo, 2006; Sverke, Hellgren, & Naswall, 2006). The survivors of layoffs were likely to have perceived their managements and superiors as perpetuating organizational injustice. The more employees perceive procedural injustice and job insecurity as arising from the workplace, the more they might reciprocate by exhibiting more negative attitudes such as reduced organizational commitment, trust, loyalty, and withholding OCB. All these might subsequently lead to further conflicts between the management and the workers.

Thus, there is a need to examine the effects of different conflict resolution strategies on the work attitudes of employees. This is because a worker who has experienced workplace frustration or suffered organizational injustice arising from the way management-worker conflicts were resolved may engage in counterproductive work activities such as character assassination, spreading negative rumors, sabotaging, turnover, (Ogungbamila, 2006), and withholding organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) (Alotaibi, 2001; Giap, Hackermeier, Jiao, & Wagdarikar, 2005; Zellars, Tepper, & Duffy, 2002).

The purpose of this study was to examine how much organizational citizenship behavior could be predicted by five conflict resolution strategies (forcing, smoothing, compromising, confronting, and withdrawing) and the moderating role of trait EI in the prediction.


Conflict resolution is a process in which interpersonal communication is used to allow two conflicted parties to reach an amicable and satisfactory point of agreement (Omoluabi, 2001). There are five conflict resolution strategies: confronting/collaborating, withdrawing/avoiding, forcing/competing, smoothing, and compromising, which can be adopted by conflicting parties (Meyer, 2004; Ogungbamila, 2006).

The confronting/collaborating strategy ranks high on both assertiveness and cooperativeness. It has the highest level of win/win orientation that involves information sharing, openness, and clarification of issues on the point of conflict to reach a solution acceptable to both parties (McShane & Von Glinow, 2000). …