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Group size and composition of work groups as precursors of intragroup conflicts

Authors Sidorenkov AV, Borokhovski EF, Kovalenko VA

Received 30 June 2018

Accepted for publication 14 September 2018

Published 24 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 511—523


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Andrey V Sidorenkov,1 Evgueni F Borokhovski,2 Viktor A Kovalenko3

1Department of Psychology of Management, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia; 2Systematic Reviews Project Manager of the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; 3Department of Finance, Kombaynovy Rostselmash Plant, Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Purpose: This study explores the connections between formal quantitative group characteristics (such as group size, group composition by gender, age, and duration of group membership of individual workers, their average age, and duration of membership) with three levels of conflict (ie, interpersonal, individual–group, and individual–subgroup) of two types (ie, activity-oriented and subject-oriented).
Method: Forty-one work groups – small-size enterprises and basic-level teams and units in medium-size companies and large corporations, with the total sample of 334 individual workers – took part in the study. The study employed the questionnaire of interpersonal conflicts in a group and the questionnaire of individual–group and micro-group conflicts as assessment tools. Subsequent regression analyses explored the relationships between group size and composition on one hand and types and levels of conflict on the other.
Results: The study established that group size is negatively associated with the individual–subgroup subject-oriented conflict. Also, group size moderates the connections between several formal group characteristics and conflict types and levels. These connections are detected in large-size groups but are nearly nonexistent in small-size groups. Group diversity by gender is negatively associated with the individual–group activity-oriented conflict (across all participating groups) and with the interpersonal and individual–group subject-oriented conflicts (in large-size groups only). Group composition by duration of group membership is negatively associated with the individual–subgroup subject-oriented conflict (across groups), participants’ average age and duration of group membership – with both types of the individual–subgroup conflict. Out of all group characteristics under consideration, only group composition by age was not associated with either of the conflict parameters.
Discussion: The paper makes a special point out of the fact that group characteristics served as much stronger predictors for conflict parameters in large-size groups than either in small-size groups or in the entire sample, indicating that the increase in group size strengthens the influence of group characteristics on conflict parameters.
Conclusion: The research findings indicate that it is important, when studying connections between group composition and conflicts within the group, to take group size and its influence on types and levels of the intragroup conflict into account.

Keywords: group composition, group size, intragroup conflict, conflict levels, conflict types

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