Relationship between Organizational Communication Climate and Interpersonal Conflict Management Styles

Pakistan Journal of Psychology, December 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

Relationship between Organizational Communication Climate and Interpersonal Conflict Management Styles


Byline: Bushra Hassan, Aneela Maqsood and Muhammad Naveed Riaz

ABSTRACT

Relation between different styles of interpersonal conflict management and dimensions of organizational communication climate was looked into; employing a sample of 160 bank employees. Sample included men and women employees having age range of 27 to 55 years (M=38.07 and SD=1.44) and education ranges from graduation to post graduation. Organizational Communication Climate Inventory developed by Costigan and Schmeidler (2004) and Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory II (1983) were administered to assess the communication climate within the organizations and different styles of handling interpersonal conflict. The correlation analysis revealed that supportive (r = .41; p less than .000) and defensive (r = .32; p less than .001) communication climate dimensions showed positive relationship with total scores of conflict management inventory.

The results further showed that integrating (r = .44; p less than .001), obliging (r = .46; p less than .001) and compromising (r = .26; p less than .01) styles of handling conflict has significant positive correlation with supportive communication climate. Dominating (r = .38; p less than .01) and avoiding (r = .36, p less than .01) styles of handling conflict has significant positive correlation with defensive communication climate. Findings revealed non significant differences with respect to gender on communication climate; women are found to use more "comprising" and "avoiding" styles of conflict management.

On education non significant differences existed on communication climate, however less educated people were found to be compromising and obliging on styles of conflict management and highly educated people showed dominating styles of conflict management. Moreover, younger employees are found to be highly endorsed on supportive communication climate than old age employees and old age employees are also found to be more obliging.

Key words: Conflict management, Communication climate, Supportive, Defensive, Integrating, Obliging, Compromising, Dominating

INTRODUCTION

Organizational studies represent the search for order, rationality, and regulation of human behavior. Mayo's Human Relation Theory, a first great scientific experiment (Hawthorn Studies) changed the organizational trend from bureaucratization towards communication as more powerful and important in morale and productivity than working conditions (see e.g., Clark, 1985; Pace and Faules, 1989). This contemporary trend towards studying 'people' and 'morale' identified the need to identify the role of communication in organizations. Communication is deemed essential to attaining the organizations goals (see for example, Argyris, 1960; Ansari and Kapoor, 1987; Ansari and Saxena, 1994; Mehta, 1977).

Literature review suggests that when communication structure is discovered, behavior will be predictable, and efficient (see for example Kilpatrick, 2000; Raja and Green, 1995; Ansari and Kapoor, 1987; Ansari and Saxena, 1994; Peterson and Pace, 1979; Siegel and Turney, 1980; Beehr, King and Daniel, 1990; Ansari, 1980; Helgesen, 1990; Bansal, 1982; Krishnan, 1984). The present study is aimed to explore the relationship of communication climate with styles of handling interpersonal conflicts in organizations (Schutz, 1958; Bansal, 1977; Siegel and Turney, 1980; Padaki, 1983; Beehr, King and Daniel, 1990).

Empirical studies report that communication is a constant process in organizations (Ansari and Kapoor, 1987; Peterson and Pace, 1979). Organizational communication climate has an important role inorganizations. The communication climate in any organization is a key determinant of its effectiveness. Organizations with supportive environments encourage worker participation, free and open exchange of information, and constructive conflict resolution. In organizations with defensive climates, employees keep things to them, make only guarded statements, and suffer from reduced morale (Costigan and Schmeidler, 2004; Raja and Green, 1995). …

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