Breaking Silos: A Field Experiment on Relational Conflict Management in Cross-Functional Teams

Smaranda Boroş*, Lore van Gorp, Brecht Cardoen, Robert Boute

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In this paper we investigate how effective conflict management in conflict asymmetry situations impacts the quality of cross-functional management teams’ performance. During a 5-day business simulation, we explore the consequences of the relational conflicts and conflict asymmetry experienced by team members. We use two different measures of conflict asymmetry: the traditional group conflict asymmetry measurement of Jehn (Adm Sci Q 40:256–282, 1995) and a social networks method. We find that when some team members evoke more conflict than others, this affects the evolution of team dynamics (and ultimately the performance of the team) even more than high levels of conflict altogether; however, group emotional awareness can mitigate this negative effect and improve the team performance through the appropriate use of conflict management strategies. Since group emotional awareness can be fostered and trained within teams, this is of practical value to improve the performance of cross-functional management teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-356
Number of pages30
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Conflict management strategies
  • Cross-functional teams
  • Field experiment
  • Group emotional awareness
  • Integration management
  • Relational conflict asymmetry
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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