The interplay of team and organizational commitment in motivating employees' interteam conflict handling
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Interteam conflict is part of everyday organizational life. Combining evidence from an experimental and a survey study, this paper puts forward and tests two interrelated propositions: 1) employees' team and organizational commitment interact to influence employees' preference for different interteam conflict handling strategies; 2) a high commitment to one entity can lead to the adoption of dysfunctional conflict handling strategies with negative outcomes for the organization unless accompanied by a high commitment to the other entity. To test these propositions, we conducted an experiment (n = 179) to assess participants’ reactions to eight reality-based conflict scenarios in which their team’s interests collided with those of other teams within the same organization. For each scenario, the conflict description was manipulated with regard to the strength of participants’ team and organizational commitment (high vs. low), resulting in an 8 x 2 x 2 factorial design. As expected, results show that high levels of commitment to one entity but not the other involve specific risks for the organization, thus supporting a dual commitment model. The results were largely borne out by a subsequent survey (n = 692) which used validated measures of commitment and conflict management to support claims for construct and external validity.