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The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management

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The effect of leadership on conflict management was examined in this meta-analytic study. A total of 485 research studies were identified as a result of a literature review, out of which 32 were included in the meta-analysis. The 32 research studies were compiled to obtain a sample size of 6,838 subjects. The analytic results of a random effects model showed that leadership has a small-magnitude, significant effect on conflict management . In the study, none of a set of variables, including the sample group , leadership style , publication type or year of publication , was found to be a moderator.
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Leadership and
Organizational
Outcomes
Meta-Analysis of Empirical Studies
The Effect of Leadership on Conflict
Management
Evren Erzen and Yasir Arma
gan
Abstract The effect of leadership on conflict management was examined in this
meta-analytic study. A total of 485 research studies were identified as a result of a
literature review, out of which 32 were included in the meta-analysis. The
32 research studies were compiled to obtain a sample size of 6,838 subjects. The
analytic results of a random effects model showed that leadership has a small-
magnitude, significant effect on conflict management. In the study, none of a set of
variables, including the sample group, leadership style, publication type or year of
publication, was found to be a moderator.
1 Introduction
Conflict is a concept that describes disagreement or differences of opinion between
individuals and any problems experienced because of these differences. Although
the definition of conflict differs across various disciplines (Rahim, 2001,2002), a
common characteristic of conflict is its being a natural consequence of interactions
between persons with differing personality traits, values, needs and desires.
The conflict state of an individual can also be based on a persons own internal
traits, in addition to those of other persons (Schrumpf, Crawford, & Bodine, 1997).
Unforeseen behaviors (Stagner, 1961) or the division of people into groups (Alex-
ander & Levin, 1998) can also be a cause of conflict. An individual may experience
a reduction in well-being due to psychological imbalances, and this situation may
lead the individual to feel vulnerable (Avs¸aro
glu, Deniz, & Kahraman, 2005). With
regard to organizations, varying opinions are identified as sources of conflict by
different researchers. Gibson, Ivancevich, and Donnelly (2000) see the sources of
conflict as functional dependency, differences in objectives, differences in
E. Erzen (*)
Artvin C¸ oruh University, Artvin, Turkey
e-mail: evrenerzen@hotmail.com
Y. Arma
gan
Eskisehir Osmangazi University, Eskisehir, Turkey
e-mail: yasirarmagan@gmail.com
©Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
E. Karadag
˘(ed.), Leadership and Organizational Outcomes,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-14908-0_14
225
perceptions and an increase in the demand for experts; Robbins (1991) states that
the sources are differentiation, dependency and the sharing of resources. Further-
more, Gutknecht and Miller (1989) see it as dependent on organizational structure,
differences in perceptions, the reward system, gaining specialization and change,
whereas Newstrom and Davis (1993) suggest the source of conflict to be organiza-
tional change, personality clashes, differences in values, threats to a position and
differences in perception. Although conflict has the potential to significantly dam-
age individual psychological well-being and the sound functioning of organiza-
tions, it may also contribute to interpersonal experiences and social maturation;
thus, the knowledge that conflicts exist and the importance of its correct manage-
ment are indication of how important conflict is (Schrumpf et al., 1997). In other
words, conflict can be beneficial, just as it can be harmful.
A leaders interactions with an organizations employees are acts that increase
the efficiency of the organization (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). Within the scope of
this important communication between the leader and his or her followers
(Northouse, 2012), all of the variables pertaining to the leader influence the conflict
experienced with the followers (Rahim, 2001). In this context and with the aim of
identifying the dynamics of conflict management, researchers have examined the
relationships among many different variables, including commitment styles
(Morris-Rothschild & Brassard, 2006), organizational communication climate
(Nordin, Sivapalan, Bhattacharyya, Ahmad, & Abdullah, 2014), emotional intelli-
gence (Chan, Sit, & Lau, 2013) and relationship quality (Bagwell & Coie, 2004),
among others. The relationship between leadership and conflict management is one
of the variables frequently investigated (Alonso & Brugha, 2006; Altma
¨e&Tu
¨rk,
2008; Arns, 2007; Eigbe, 2014; Hamlin & Jennings, 2007; Hendel, Fish, & Galon,
2005; Huo, Molina, Sawahata, & Deang, 2005;t Hart, 2007; Yang, 2014).
This study examined the effect of leadership on conflict management within
organizations. Furthermore, the potential moderators of this study, which were
thought to have moderate impact sizes, were the following: (1) the sample of the
research study, (2) the leadership style, (3) the type of publication and (4) the year
of publication. All of these variables, in concert with previous research results, were
used to test the following hypotheses of this study.
H
1
Leadership has a positive effect on conflict management.
H
2
The sample group is a moderator for the positive effect of leadership on
conflict management.
H
3
The leadership style is a moderator for the positive effect of leadership on
conflict management.
H
4
The publication type is a moderator for the positive effect of leadership on
conflict management.
H
5
The year of publication is a moderator for the positive effect of leadership on
conflict management.
226 E. Erzen and Y. Arma
gan
2 Method
2.1 Study Design
In this study, the effect of leadership on conflict management was tested using a
meta-analytic design.
2.2 Review Strategy and Criteria for Inclusion/Exclusion
To identify the research studies to include in the meta-analysis, the ScienceDirect,
ProQuest and EBSCO academic databases were used to conduct a literature review.
For this process, inclusion of the terms leadership and conflict management in the
titles of studies was used as a screening criterion. The end date for the studies
included in the research was identified as March 2014. Doctoral dissertations and
peer-reviewed journals were included in the study.
Many strategies were used to identify the research studies that were appropriate
for the meta-analytic study. First, a research study pool (485 research studies) was
identified, comprised of all studies with leadershipand conflict managementin
their titles. The abstracts of these studies were reviewed, and all were found to be
appropriate for inclusion in the study. In the second stage, all research studies in the
pool were examined in detail. The results of the examination found that 32 of the
research studies in the pool were appropriate, and 435 were found to be unsuitable.
Descriptive statistics of the 32 research studies identified for inclusion in the
analysis are presented in Table 1.
The criteria for inclusion of a research study in the analysis were identified as
follows:
having the statistical information necessary for correlational meta-analysis
(nand r, or R
2
values) and
measuring the correlation between leadership and conflict management.
Reasons for not including a research study in the meta-analysis included the
following:
having no quantitative data (qualitative research),
not having a correlation coefficient,
not focusing on conflict management and
not focusing on leadership.
The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management 227
2.3 Coding Process
The coding process is essentially a data-sorting process that manages data emerging
as complex information from studies in a manner that is clear and suitable for
investigation. In accordance with this scope, a coding form was developed prior to
carrying out the statistical analysis, and the coding occurred according to the form.
The main aim was to develop a specific coding system that would allow the study to
investigate the entirety of the research studies generally while not missing any
characteristic of the individual research studies. The coding form developed in the
study was comprised of the following:
references for the research,
information on the sample,
the sample group/sector,
the leadership style/approach,
the data collection tool(s) and
the quantitative values.
2.4 Statistical Processes
The impact quantity, as determined through meta-analysis, is a uniformly measured
value used to determine the strength and direction of the relationship in the study
(Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein, 2009). Pearsons correlation coefficient
(r) was determined to be the impact quantity in this study. Because the correlation
coefficient has a value between +1 and 1, the calculated rvalue was evaluated by
converting this value into the value as it appears in the ztable (Hedges & Olkin,
1985). Provided that more than one correlation value is given between the same
Table 1 Characteristics of the studies included in the meta-analysis
Variables 1 2 3 4 5 Toplam
Year of the
research
Before 1990 1990–
1999
2000–
2009
After
2010
n2 4 13 13 32
% 6.3 12.5 40.6 40.6 100
Type of
research
study
Thesis and
dissertations
Article –
n15 17 – – 32
% 46.9 53.1 100
Sample
group
Worker Mixed Student Manager Health
worker
Other
n9 4 4 7 6 2 32
% 28.1 12.5 12.5 21.9 18.8 6.3 100
228 E. Erzen and Y. Arma
gan
structure categories in correlational meta-analysis studies, two different approaches
are used in to determine which should be adopted for the meta-analysis (Borenstein
et al., 2009; Kulinskaya, Morgenthaler, & Staudte, 2008). For this study, (1) if the
correlations were independent, all of the related correlations were included in the
analysis and were considered as independent studies; and (2) if there were depen-
dent correlations, then the conservation estimation was accepted. A random effects
model was used for the meta-analysis processes in this study. The Comprehensive
Meta-Analysis program was used in the meta-analytic process.
2.5 Moderator Variables
To determine the statistical significances among the different moderators of the
study, only the Q
b
values were used. Four moderator variables that were thought to
have a role in determining the average impact size were identified in the study. The
first of these considered the leadership style/approach as a moderator with regard to
the relationship between conflict management and leadership styles/approaches.
The second was the sample group/sector because it was thought to have an impact
on the average effect of leadership perceptions and conflict management. The third
set of moderators was the publicationsyear of the research and the type of research
study.
2.6 Publication Bias
A funnel plot for the research studies included in the meta-analysis of the study can
be seen in Fig. 1. Evidence of an effect due to publication bias for the research
studies included in the meta-analysis would be seen in Fig. 1. A serious asymmetry
would be expected in the funnel plot were there a publication bias. The concentra-
tion of plots for the research studies occurring to one side under the line of average
impact size, especially at the bottom of the funnel, would be indicative of likely
publication bias. In this study, no evidence of partiality of the publications was
observed for any of the 32 data subjected to meta-analysis.
Even though no partiality in publications was observed in the funnel plot, the
results of Duval and Tweedies trim and fill test, which was applied to determine the
impact quantity related to partiality in publications and was acquired through the
meta-analysis using the random effects model, are given in Table 2. As can be seen
in Table 2, there is no difference between the impact observed and the artificial
impact quantity created to fix the impact resulting from the partiality of publica-
tions. The research on either side of the centerline is symmetrical, and this is the
indicator for no existing difference. Because there is no evidence indicating lost
data on either side of the centerline, the difference between the fixed impact
quantity and observed impact quantity is zero.
The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management 229
3 Findings
Table 3shows the results of the meta-analysis between leadership and conflict
management. The findings provide support for H
1
, which argued that there is a
positive relationship between leadership and conflict management. The impact
value of the leadership on conflict management was calculated as 0.15. This result
shows that leadership has a small-magnitude effect on conflict management (see
Cohen, 1988).
The results of the moderator analysis show that the H
2
hypothesis regarding the
role of the research sample on the magnitude of impact between leadership and
conflict management was not supported. However, research included in the meta-
analysis showed that the effects on the conflict management of employees
[r¼0.20], students [r¼0.04] other subjects, including pilots and religious instruc-
tors [r¼0.02] and mixed groups of teachers and students [r¼0.22] was at a basic
level, whereas for health professionals [r¼0.32], the effect was not significant and
medium in magnitude; for managers [r¼0.01], the effect was small but signif-
icant. The strongest level of effect was for the sample group, including the health
professional. Although the impact values on conflict management for various
samples differed, the moderator analysis carried out according to the random effects
Fig. 1 Effect size funnel for publication bias
Table 2 Duval and Tweedies trim and fill test results
Studies trimmed Point estimate
CI (confidence interval)
Q
Lower limit Upper limit
Observed values 0.16071 0.1404 0.18113 927.52613
Adjusted values 0 0.16071 0.1404 0.18113 927.52613
230 E. Erzen and Y. Arma
gan
model showed that the effect level for sample types when measuring conflict
management was not significant (Q
b
¼4.14, p>0.05).
The findings did not support the H
3
hypothesis that leadership style plays a
moderating role in the effect that leadership has on conflict management. The
moderator analysis found the difference between the magnitude of impact of
leadership styles not to be significant (Q
b
¼2.04, p>0.05). Despite this result,
general leadership [r¼0.03] and the channel, interaction/sustainer, visionary,
emergent and servant leader types [r¼0.20] were shown to yield small-magnitude
effects of leadership on conflict management [p>0.05], whereas the transforma-
tional leadership style [r¼0.21] was found to be statistically significant in terms of
effect of this type of leadership on conflict management [p>0.05].
The findings did not provide support for hypothesis H
4
, that the type of publi-
cation plays a moderating role on the effects of leadership on conflict management.
Although a statistically significant difference between the sample groups was not
found (Q
b
¼1.28, p>0.05) as regards the level of impact, a non-significant, small-
magnitude impact of research studies [r¼0.22] and a small-magnitude significance
for dissertations [r¼0.09] was found.
The research did not support H
5,
which hypothesized that the year of publication
plays a moderating role on leaderships effect on conflict management.
Table 3 Findings of the correlations between leadership and conflict management: results of the
meta-analysis
Variable k N
r
CI (confidence
interval)
QQ
b
Lower limit Upper limit
Conflict management 32 6,838 0.15* 0.03 0.26 927,526*
Moderator (sample group) 4.14
Employee 9 2,462 0.20 0.02 0.41
Student 4 835 0.04 0.29 0.37
Health professionals 6 2,647 0.32 0.55 0.55
Manager 7 1,172 0.01* 0.25 0.25
Mixed 4 1,058 0.22 0.52 0.52
Other 2 599 0.02 0.47 0.47
Moderator (leadership style) 2.04
Transformational 15 4,764 0.21* 0.04 0.37
General 11 2,363 0.03 0.16 0.23
Other 6 1,646 0.20 0.06 0.44
Moderator (type of the research study) 1.28
Dissertations 17 3,701 0.09* 0.05 0.38
Research studies 15 5,072 0.22 0.07 0.25
Moderator (year of the research) 0.70
Before 1990 2 370 0.34 0.16 0.71
1990–1999 4 1,238 0.19 0.14 0.49
2000–2009 12 3,335 0.13 0.05 0.32
After 2010 13 3,830 0.13 0.05 0.31
*p<0.01, **p<0.05
The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management 231
The moderator analysis did not find a statistically significant difference in the
magnitude of impact of the studiespublication years (Q
b
¼0.70, p<0.05). How-
ever, the meta-analysis found that studies conducted in 2010 and later [r¼0.13],
studies conducted between 1990 and 1999 [r¼0.19] and studies conducted
between 2000 and 2009 [r¼0.13] showed small-magnitude effects of leadership
on conflict management.
Conclusion
A meta-analysis was conducted in this study in order to determine what level
of impact leadership has on conflict management. In doing so, its aim was to
ascertain a general conclusion from studies and dissertations from the past to
the present. Furthermore, determining whether variables such as the sample
group, leadership style, year of publication and type of publication play
moderating roles in the effect of leadership on conflict management was
prioritized in this study.
The results indicate that there is a significant effect of leadership on
conflict management. However, the level of identified impact is low. In
fact, a significant impact of leadership on conflict management is to be
expected because it is probable that leaders undertaking a constructive role
ensure that a group of followers joins under a common aim by resolving and
preventing conflict or by being the creator of conflict. One leader can be
found to intervene in a way that increases conflict, whereas other leaders may
choose to resolve problems by means of consensus. Thus, a leaders signif-
icant impact on conflict management is an expected outcome when consid-
ered in this context. In comparison, the small magnitude of impact reduces the
importance of the other factors affecting conflict management. In other
words, results show that leadership addresses a small share of factors that
affect conflict management. The nature of the factors that are effective may
be the reason why this result has emerged. For example, extroverted individ-
uals may display a higher tendency for conflict (Basım, C¸ etin, & Tabak,
2009). In addition, differences in temperament (Druckman, 1993), psycho-
logical and cultural differences (Karip, 1999), differences in objectives
(C¸a
glayan, 2006), differences in the perception of cases (O
guz, 2007), dif-
ferences in status (Bumin, 1990), the lack of good communication (Akın,
1998) or the lack of decision-making authority that individuals may have
within organizations (Decenzo & Robbins, 1999) can also lead to conflict. To
put it a different way, the factors related to an individuals own self can have a
greater impact when compared with external factors, such as leadership.
Thus, the individuals own self may be a more meaningful factor in conflict
management than leader-related factors.
Analyses conducted on moderator variables showed that the variables
determined in the context of this study had no impact on the effect of
(continued)
232 E. Erzen and Y. Arma
gan
leadership on conflict management. The findings of the analysis related to the
sample group showed that the followers of a leader who experience conflict as
a result of joining different groups did not have an effect on conflict man-
agement. However, a significant negative effect was found in data collected
from managers. In other words, managers in the role of the leader create a
negative impact on conflict management. This result means that managers
have a negative effect on conflict management when considering the fact that
conflict management is a positive concept. The reason for this may be due to
managers undertaking methods and strategies that lead to negative results.
Similarly, findings suggest that no matter which leadership style is under-
taken, there are no differences in the method of conflict management for
individuals experiencing conflict. However, research conducted on transfor-
mational leadership found that significant differences were experienced at
varying levels of conflict. This finding is in line with a study investigating the
differences in identification of the conflict styles of transformational leaders
and sustainer leaders, which found that transformational leaders have an
effect on conflict strategies (Hendel et al., 2005). Transformational leaders
are individuals who provide guidance to their employees, ensure intellectual
stimulation and raise the energy of their employees (Bass, 1991). When the
behaviors, traits and leadership outcomes of transformational leaders are
reviewed as a whole (Karip, 1998), it could be stated that transformational
leaders provide the opportunity for diversity in conflict among their
employees.
The moderator analysis carried out with regard to the type of publication
showed that various types of publications did not significantly affect the
conflict methods of leaders. However, it was seen that there were significant
differences in dissertations and significant differences in the effect of leader-
ship on conflict management. This being the case, it could be stated that
dissertation results that do not have a publication bias allow diversity between
leadership and conflict management; this can be interpreted to mean that such
dissertations observed that leadership has differing impacts on conflict
management.
Finally, no significant differences were found regarding the year of pub-
lication as a moderator variable or for the direct effects of years of publica-
tion. In contrast, it is possible to mention a medium-magnitude moderator
effect for publications dating earlier than 1990. However, this could be due to
there only having been two publications undertaken during that period, with
both having found a high correlation. Thus, one should note that a comparison
of only two publications upon which to make inferences might lead to
potentially unsound results.
The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management 233
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The Effect of Leadership on Conflict Management 237
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