Summary When good conflict gets better and bad conflicts becomes worse: the role of social capital in the conflict - innovation relationship

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Summary - When good conflict gets better and bad conflicts becomes worse: the role of social capital in the conflict - innovation relationship

  • 1 Introduction

  • What is the purpose of this paper?
    This research investigates the moderating effect of social capital (social interaction & trust) on the ‘conflict – innovation relationship’ and poses the argument that social interaction amplifies (versterkt) the beneficial effect of task conflict and the harmful effect of relationship conflict, whereas trust suppresses (onderdrukt) only the effect of task conflict on innovation, not the relationship on innovation.
  • At higher levels of social interaction, the positive relationship between task conflict and innovation is stronger and the negative relationship between relationship conflict and innovation is stronger.
  • At higher levels of trust, the positive relationship between task conflict and innovation weakens. 
  • Aim 1:
    Deepen understanding of how contextual factors moderate the relationship between conflict and innovation. Discuss the nature and role of social capital to suggest that its underlying dimensions of social interaction and trust may provide more finegrained insights into the mechanisms that relate conflict to innovation.
  • Aim 2:
    Move beyond the role of crossfunctional integration for innovation to provide a more detailed understanding of how the resources embedded in cross-functional relationships might affect the consequences of disagreements across functional departments.
  • Aim 3:
    Arguments and findings add important nuances to the acclaimed universal beneficial role of social capital in intra-organizational functioning, and the interactions between marketing and R&D in particular.
  • Aim 4:
    Highlight how some challenges associated with cross-functional relationship building can interfere with the productive channelling of conflict into innovation.
  • Wat is a conflict?
    The perceived incompatibilities or disagreements among exchange partners
  • What is task conflict?
    Disagreements between functional departments about ideas and opinions pertaining to a particular task and thus captures contrasting perspectives about specific issues.
  • What is relationship conflict?
    Personality clashes between people in different departments and is characterized by negative feelings such as tension, annoyance, frustration, and irritation.
  • What is organizational innovation?
    The extent to which a firm’s strategic posture is directed toward the development of new products and services or entry in new markets.
  • Why does task conflict play a positive role for innovation?
    Because it stimulates original and divergent viewpoints.
  • Why does relationship conflict play a negative role for innovation?
    Because it harms innovation because the associated negative emotions distract attention from high-quality knowledge exchanges and decision making.
  • Where does social capital consist of?
    1. Social interaction
    2. Trust
  • What is social interaction?
    The strength of the social relationships between exchange partners. 
  • What is trust?
    The belief that a partner will act benevolently even when the possibility for opportunism exists. 
  • These two dimensions of social capital often go hand in hand, but they differ from one another. Trusted partners may still prefer to maintain formal interactions, and informal ties do not prevent exchange partners from acting in opportunistic ways.
  • 2.1 Nature of cross-functional conflict

  • The existence of different “thoughtworlds” has been pointed out as one of the reasons for divergent viewpoints between marketing and R&D managers; and explains that these thoughtworlds may emerge from different educational training or professional backgrounds. Cross-functional cooperation can lead to conflicts in which managers from different functional areas disagree about innovation-related decisions. 
  • In which 2 ways is conflict multidimensional in nature?
    1. Task conflict is content-driven and arises because of differences in viewpoints about particular tasks.
    2. Relationship conflict is person-driven and arises when there are incompatibilities between different personalities, prompting negative feelings such as tension and frustration.
  • Task conflict plays a beneficial role in innovation, in that disagreements about content-related issues are “an antidote to core rigidities because it forces the constant reexamination of whatever perspective dominates at the time in the organization”. 
  • Relationship conflict suppresses innovation because the associated negative emotions have a dysfunctional effect on the quality of knowledge exchange and decision making.
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