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Abstract

This research examines the relationships among individualism-collectivism (IND-COL), conflict management styles and conflict satisfaction. The authors aim to explain some of the inconclusive findings in the literature related to IND-COL and conflict styles by studying IND-COL as states, rather than dispositional traits. By taking a dynamic approach to conceptualizing IND-COL and measuring IND-COL over time, we investigate how different ratios of individualistic-to-collectivistic orientations are associated with different conflict management styles. Results show that individuals who employed a balanced focus (1:1 ratio) of both individualistic and collectivistic orientations utilized an integrative style in conflict more than individuals with either a strong individualistic or collectivistic orientation. Integrative style was associated with higher levels of satisfaction with conflict outcomes, processes, relationships, goal attainment and job satisfaction at work. Individuals with predominant focus on individualism utilized a dominating style more, whereas individuals with predominant focus on collectivism utilized obliging and avoiding styles. Furthermore, results show that state-level IND-COL is a better predictor of conflict management styles than trait-level IND-COL. Past research has focused on studying IND-COL primarily as a trait variable at the individual level, but we examine IND-COL as states in relation to conflict management styles. In addition, we investigate the combined and optimal effects of both individualism and collectivism value-orientations on conflict management styles.

Author Bio(s)

REGINA KIM, International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Department of Organization and Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University.

PETER T. COLEMAN, International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Department of Organization and Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University.

CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING THIS ARTICLE should be addressed to Regina Kim-Yeo, International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: rk2534@columbia.edu.

This study is supported by a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Grant (W911NF-08-1-0144) from the U.S. Army Research Institute, Department of Defense.

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