Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Does Team Conflict Affect Top Management Team Creativity? Team Climate as a Moderator

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Does Team Conflict Affect Top Management Team Creativity? Team Climate as a Moderator

Article excerpt

Top management teams (TMTs), as the high-level decision-making body in an organization, must be creative and innovative by providing new ideas and methods to solve problems (Rong, Li, & Xie, 2019). TMTs comprise the chief executive officer, general manager, and deputy general manager, and the senior managers who report directly to them. Previous researchers have examined the demographic characteristics and heterogeneity of TMTs (see, e.g., Georgakakis, Greve, & Ruigrok, 2017), but their findings have been inconsistent. Later researchers have explored the internal top management team (TMT) operation process, with a focus on TMT creativity (García-Granero, Fernández-Mesa, Jansen, & Vega-Jurado, 2018).

TMT creativity is the ability of members to present innovative and practical ideas for management practice (Shin & Zhou, 2007). They undertake the important mission of formulating and implementing strategic decisions (Rong & Ge, 2014). Creativity allows TMTs to adapt to environmental changes, promote decision making, and achieve innovative development for their enterprise (Rong et al., 2019). Researchers have examined TMT creativity formation via the effect of paternalistic and transformational leadership on TMT creativity (Chang, Liu, & Jing, 2016; Kim, 2017). However, they have not revealed the internal mechanism for TMT creativity formation because the stimulation of creativity depends on the participation and promotion of TMT members in a harmonious team climate; thus, team conflict management is particularly critical for TMT creativity (X. Liu & Chen, 2017).

Team conflict is a group process of obstruction and resistance when members perceive existing or potential antagonism (L.-G. Liu & Pu, 2013), and involves both cognitive and emotional conflict. Cognitive conflict is disagreement of opinions and ideas about the task itself, and does not involve personal assault or interpersonal disharmony (Tjosvold, Law, & Sun, 2006). Emotional conflict arises from interpersonal relationship disharmony among members, including contradiction, hatred, or anger. Conflict within TMTs is unavoidable because of heterogeneity in gender, age, and values. Du and Chen (2009) found that cognitive conflict can enhance TMT members' cognition about and understanding of tasks and bring diversified solutions, whereas emotional conflict reduces team cohesion and is not conducive to healthy development of the team or organization (Amason, 1996). Camelo-Ordaz, García-Cruz, and Sousa-Ginel (2015) found that TMT cognitive conflict has a positive impact on enterprise innovation performance, whereas emotional conflict has the opposite effect. In addition, Wang, Su, and Guo (2019) found that cognitive conflict in TMTs positively affects exploratory innovation, whereas emotional conflict has a negative effect. While emotional conflict weakens TMT members' mutual understanding, hurts their feelings, and reduces their satisfaction, cognitive conflict promotes members' understanding of tasks and exchanges, and helps them to brainstorm, coordinate, and achieve team innovation (Chen, Zheng, & Wang, 2016). Therefore, we focused on the effect of both cognitive and emotional conflict on TMT creativity, and examined the moderating role of team climate in this relationship.

Literature Review and Hypothesis Development

Influence of Cognitive Conflict on Top Management Team Creativity

In the process of accomplishing team goals, members often have different problem-solving ideas because they differ in cognition, personality, roles, and preferences (Franke & Foerstl, 2018). When TMT members disagree on how to achieve team goals and disputes arise, cognitive conflict is formed within the team (Wang et al., 2019). Team creativity is the crystallization of collective wisdom, which requires TMT members to share diverse information and achieve knowledge transfer, exchange, and sharing (Rong et al., 2019). However, in the process of cognitive conflict, TMT members may express different opinions on decision making, expound opposing views, and provide learning opportunities to generate new ideas. …

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