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

Abstract

This research investigates the moderating effect of social capital on the conflict–innovation relationship and poses the argument that social interaction amplifies the beneficial effect of task conflict and the harmful effect of relationship conflict, whereas trust suppresses these effects. Analyses of a sample of 232 Canadian-based firms demonstrate that at higher levels of social interaction, the positive relationship between task conflict and innovation is stronger, and so is the negative relationship between relationship conflict and innovation. Furthermore, at higher levels of trust, the positive relationship between task conflict and innovation weakens. This study adds to the emerging contingency perspective pertaining to the study of conflict and provides a more nuanced view of the beneficial role of intra-organizational social capital for innovation.

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Acknowledgment

The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Correspondence to Dirk De Clercq.

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De Clercq, D., Thongpapanl, N. & Dimov, D. When good conflict gets better and bad conflict becomes worse: the role of social capital in the conflict–innovation relationship. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 37, 283–297 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-008-0122-0

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Keywords

  • Innovation
  • Conflict
  • Social capital
  • Cross-functional collaboration