Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Management and Organizational Behaviour
Lazaridis School of Business and Economics
Dr. Yujie (Jessie) Zhan
This dissertation examines perceptions of task conflict instigators. Task conflict is a core process that teams need to engage in to solve complex problems, however we know little about how the individual who instigates the task conflict is perceived, and what effects these perceptions have on important workplace outcomes like co-worker interaction intentions, promotion potential, and leadership potential. I propose that women who instigate task conflict may be perceived differently on the two fundamental dimensions of person perception: agency and communion. These perceptions, in turn, go on to influence important workplace outcomes that could provide additional insight into why there are still so few women in positions of leadership today. Drawing on the dual concern model of conflict management, social role theory, and the literature on prescriptive stereotypes, I investigate this issue in three studies. In a lab experiment with undergraduate business students, I found that women who engage in high levels of task conflict were perceived as less communal and lower on co-worker interaction intentions (i.e., co-workers were less likely to want to work with them in the future). In a second lab study with undergraduate business students, I investigate how the negative effects of engaging in high levels of task conflict for women may be mitigated by use of an integrating conflict management style and find that integrating conflict management style can help buffer the negative effects of task conflict on communality perceptions, but it cannot shield them completely. Finally, in study 3, I extend the previous findings in a field survey with employees and find the data yielded inconsistent results regarding the relationship between task conflict instigation and gender when predicting communality and agency and important workplace outcomes. Implications for the conflict literature and women in leadership are discussed.
Hancock, Samantha, "IS TASK CONFLICT TRULY GOOD FOR EVERYONE? EXAMINING THE INTERACTION BETWEEN TASK CONFLICT AND GENDER ON INDIVIDUAL OUTCOMES" (2023). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2582.
Available for download on Friday, August 28, 2026
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