Does Conflict Help or Hinder Creativity in Teams? An Examination of Conflict’s Effects on Creative Processes and Creative Outcomes

Claus W. Langfred, Neta Moye


We examine the relationship between conflict and creativity-relevant intra-group processes over time. Morespecifically, we explore whether task and relationship conflict have effects on the extent to which teams engagein information exchange and creative problem solving. We test these relationships with multiple waves oflongitudinal data collected from 141 individuals across 35 project teams. We find that, replicated across multipleperiods of time, task conflict does not have an effect on either information exchange or creative problem solving,but relationship conflict does. Furthermore, while relationship conflict undermines intra-group creativeprocesses, only task conflict appears to affect the creativity of the group’s final outcomes. Contrary to the viewof conflict as functional and stimulating, the outcome effect of task conflict was negative.

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International Journal of Business and Management   ISSN 1833-3850 (Print)   ISSN 1833-8119 (Online)

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