This study is the first to explore the multilevel interplay of humor and intragroup conflict in cross-cultural settings and shows how various types of humor can shape the emergence of conflict and its transformation. More specifically, we investigated the relationship between different styles of humorous communication (i.e. controlling and liberating) and the type of conflict (i.e. task, process and relationship) that emerges in group contexts. We also examine whether a different cultural context (low power distance vs high power distance) moderates the association between controlling humor and relationship conflict.
We collected data using a survey from 536 participants from two different countries (Romania and The Netherlands) that were working in a group in organizations from various sectors. Supporting our hypotheses, multi-level data analyses show that liberating humor has a positive association with task conflict, while controlling humor has a positive association with both process and relationship conflict. Moreover, task and conflict mediates the relationship between liberating humor and relationship conflict, while process conflict mediates the relationship between controlling humor and relationship conflict. The hypothesis regarding the moderating effect of the different cultural context was not supported by the data.
The findings of our study can contribute to the literature on conflict transformation in groups, as well as help managers and organizational consultants understand how certain patterns of interpersonal communication can lead to divergent opinions and escalate into relationship conflicts that are harmful for the group.
Andreea Gheorghe, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
Petru Lucian Curseu, Open Universiteit, Netherlands
Oana Catalina Fodor, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
About the Presenter(s)
Andreea Gheorghe is a PhD candidate interested in the study of teams, with a special focus on the effect that humoristic communication has on team processes and emergent states.
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