Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Conflicts on Team Satisfaction and Face Lossand the Moderating Role of Face Work Behaviors in Online Discussions

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Conflicts on Team Satisfaction and Face Lossand the Moderating Role of Face Work Behaviors in Online Discussions

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Discussion is an important form of human communication-one that is essential for collaboration, cooperation, learning, and many other social activities. Online discussions are a central component in education that goes beyond the traditional classroom setting (Levine, 2007). Online discussions allow students to read each other's ideas, share their own ideas, and collaboratively expand and deepen their mutual understanding of the discussion topic (Gunawardena, 1998).

An important aspect of interrelations among participants in a discussion is conflict. Conflict is defined as "the awareness by the parties involved of discrepancies, incompatible wishes, or irreconcilable desires" (Jehn & Mannix, 2001, p. 238, cr. Boulding, 1963). Studies on the influence of conflict on team performance show mixed results. For instance, the influence of relationship conflict on team performance is mostly negative (Jehn, 1997; De Jong, Schalk, & Curseu, 2008; De Dreu & Weingart, 2002; Jehn, 1995; and Shah & Jehn, 1993). Task conflict and process conflict do not show a clear positive or negative influence on team performance (De Jong, Theune & Hofs, 2008; Souren & Sumati, 2010; Jehn & Chadwick, 1997; De Dreu & Weingart, 2002; Hinds & Mortensen, 2005). Given these findings, we explore the influence of conflict on the outcomes of online discussions, not knowing the direction and strength of the influence.

During a discussion or other incidents, an important aspect to consider involving the interrelationships among participants, face-to-face or online, is face. Face is defined by Goffman (1967, p. 5) as "the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact." As an effect of a discussion, participants' social image may deteriorate (Face Loss, Chester and Bond, 2008), in consequence, participants may react in order to restore or protect such social image. Through facework behaviors, "the communicative strategies one uses to enact self-face and to uphold, support, or challenge another person's face" (Oetzel, Ting-Toomey, Yokochi, Masumoto, & Takai, 2000, p. 398), participants may manage their face. Existing studies show that face loss has direct consequences on future interpersonal interactions (Brown and Levinson, 1987; Hodgins, Liebeskind & Schwartz, 1996) and in relationship deterioration (Kam and Bond,

2008). Previous studies focused on participants' recollections of face-to-face discussions or conflict scenarios (Oetzel et al., 2000; Oetzel, Ting-Toomey, Masumoto, Yokochi, Pan, Takai, & Wilcox, 2001; Oetzel & Ting-Toomey, 2003; Oetzel, Ting-Toomey, ChewSanchez, Harris, Wilcox & Stumpf, 2003; Oetzel et al., 2007, Walsh, Gregory, Lake, and Gunawardena, 2003, Baranova, 2010). This paper explores the influence of (the degree of) facework behaviors on the relationship between conflicts and face loss and satisfaction in online discussions.

The structure of this paper is as follows. First, the concepts of face, facework behaviors, and conflicts are discussed and the research model and hypotheses are elaborated. Next the design and sample of the study are described, followed by an overview of the results. Lastly, the conclusion, discussion of the findings, implications for practice, limitations and recommendations for future research are presented.

BACKGROUND

In order to explain the research model used in this study, this section explores the concepts of face, facework behaviors, and conflict.

Face

In face-to-face or online discussions, the concept of face "the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact" (Goffman, 1967, p. 5) is present. Face is the image of an individual, or a group, that society sees and evaluates based on cultural norms and values (Ting-Toomey, 1988). …

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