Restoring the effectiveness of self-managing teams after occurring intra-team conflicts: an exploratory qualitative study

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Nowadays, a trend can be identified concerning the implementation of self-managing teams in organizations. The popularity on self-managing teams has been boosted because of the organizational benefits that are associated with self-managing teams, like an increasing productivity, job satisfaction and the reduction of costs. However, to actually accomplish these organizational benefits, self-managing teams must establish high levels of effectiveness. But, in order to maintain a high degree of self-managing team effectiveness, members of self-managing teams are forced deal with the inevitable occurrence of intra-team conflicts. Because occurring intra-team conflicts are likely to deteriorate the overall effectiveness of self-managing teams, it is key for team members to create an understanding on how they can deal with those conflict situations. Since this research area is relatively unexplored in current literature on self-management and conflict resolution management, this study is conducted in order to examine how members of self-managing teams themselves restore their effectiveness after occurring intra-team conflicts. In order to gather new insights and in-depth knowledge on the social phenomenon in its social context, an exploratory qualitative research design selected. The required data has been collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with nine individuals from two different self-managing teams within a Dutch healthcare organization. Subsequently, the obtained data has been transformed and analyzed according to the principles of the template analysis. The outcomes of this study contribute to the current literature on conflict resolution management in self-managing teams in several ways. First of all, the results show that the unique characteristics of self-managing teams do have an impact on the emergence and development of different types of intra-team conflicts. Secondly, an interesting finding concerns the fact that members did not apply one particular conflict resolution strategy to resolve occurring types of intra team conflicts. Instead, they applied a sequence of smaller actions (i.e., conflict resolution strategies) to de-escalate and resolve occurring types of intra-team conflicts, whereafter their self-managing team effectiveness could be restored. Thirdly, outcomes of this research show how self-managing teams deal with ongoing conflicts while maintaining their effectiveness at the same time. Lastly, these outcomes provide new insights on conflict resolution strategies that may be valuable for members of self-managing teams concerning dealing with occurring intra-team conflicts effectively in practice.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen