Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Psychometric and Construct Validity Assessment of the Flynn-Elloy Conflict Management Styles Inventory

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Psychometric and Construct Validity Assessment of the Flynn-Elloy Conflict Management Styles Inventory

Article excerpt

This study examined Flynn and Elloy's ( 1987) 30-item Conflict Management Styles Inventory which taps five styles: competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation. A sample of 210 management undergraduates completed the inventory and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960). Subsamples also completed the General Decision-Making Style inventory (Scott & Bruce, 1995) or the Life Roles Inventory-Values Scale (Fitzsimmons, Macnab, & Casserly, 1985). Confirmatory factor analyses supported the five scales although exploratory factor analyses and item/scale reliability analyses revealed some psychometric weaknesses. Six indexes formed from various combinations of the five styles were examined (Chanin & Schneer, 1984) as well as gender effects. All the styles and indexes were independent of social desirability. The pattern of relationships between conflictmanagement styles and both decision-making styles and values provide some construct validity support for the Conflict Management Styles Inventory.

Blake and Mouton's (1964) managerial grid and their proposed five styles of interpersonal conflict management within their 9x9 grid (see Figure 1) received much attention over the years as well as stimulating others to develop instruments tapping these five conflict management styles (e.g., Rahim, 1983; Thomas & Kilmann, 1974). Essentially, the five conflict management styles conceptualized in the various instruments are "competition" (forcing one's views at the expense of others); "collaboration" (using a problem-solving approach to confront differences directly); "compromise" (each party gives a bit to find a middle ground resolution); "avoidance" (withdrawal from the conflict situation); and "accommodation" ( smoothing over differences and focusing on areas of agreement to maintain positive interpersonal relationships).

Extending Blake and Mouton's work, others have developed dimensions and indexes that help further the understanding of conflict management styles. Kilmann and Thomas (1975) developed four composite dimensions of conflict-handling behavior based upon the linking of Jungian personality dimensions (thinkingfeeling and introversion-extroversion) with the five conflict management styles. Their integrative dimension mapped onto Jung's introversion-extroversion dimension, the distributive dimension onto Jung's thinking-feeling continuum, the assertive dimension onto the competition-avoidance conflict management styles dimensions, and the cooperative dimension onto the accommodation-avoidance styles dimension. In a more recent elaboration of this typology, Chanin (1980) and Chanin and Schneer (1984) added two more dimensions. Their proactive dimension reflects taking active steps toward conflict resolution as evidenced in the competitive and collaborative styles whereas the reactive dimension reflects letting other parties take the lead as evidenced by avoiding and accommodating styles. Thus, we have six additional and meaningful ways of examining conflicthandling behaviors.

More recently, Flynn and Elloy (1987) developed a self-report inventory having 30 statement pairs which tap these five widely-accepted conflict management styles; namely, competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation. The inventory requires respondents to chose between two alternative statements (A or B) for each of 30 statement pairs. The maximum score for any style is 12 with higher scores indicating a greater preference for the style.

The main purposes of this study were to (a) examine the psychometric properties of Flynn and Elloy's relatively new instrument; (b) evaluate the utility of the six indexes developed with other similar instruments; (c) examine gender effects; and (d) determine if scores on these styles and indexes were independent of social desirability. A secondary purpose of the study was to provide a preliminary examination of the construct validity of the instrument as it relates to decisionmaking styles and values. …

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