Impact of task conflict on job satisfaction: mediating effect of positive emotions while controlling personality traits.

Author:Demirbag, Orkun


In a today competitive business world, companies are obliged to provide customer satisfaction with high performance to maintain their competitive advantage. In order to provide this satisfaction, human resources are the most important sources. So, job satisfaction is a crucial factor both employees and employers. Job satisfaction can be defined as "... a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experiences". Organizational goal of high priority has also been attainment of high level of performance through productivity and efficiency (Mount et al, 2006: 598). In order to achieve this, the organizations try to create a conducive and satisfied work force that causes high productivity, reduced turnover, improved commitment and involvement. Ayeni and Popoola (2007) pointed out there are three important dimensions of job satisfaction. The first one is that Job satisfaction is an emotional response to a job situation. As such it cannot be seen, it can only be inferred. Secondly, job satisfaction is often determined by how well outcome meet or exceed expectations. The last one is that job satisfaction represents several related attitudes which are most important characteristics of job about which people have effective response.

According to Affective events theory (AET), emotions are central to employees' job satisfaction and job performance (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996). Moods and emotions of employees are in the center of the theory; therewithal conflict and conflict management are directly related to the moods and emotions of employees.

In the literature, task conflict is analyzed based on its level of intensity and it is depicted either as mild or intense (Todorova et al, 2014); and the conditions under which task conflict triggers positive or negative outcomes (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Shaw et al., 2011)

In this study, task conflict is analyzed based on mild and intense task conflict, the fact that high or low levels of task conflict produce different organizational outcomes (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Shaw et al., 2011; Todorova et al. 2014). It is assumed that mild task conflict takes place in the cases where coworkers generally deliberate and articulate different opinions and ideas; and they tend to share dissimilar or contrasting opinions by listening to each other's viewpoint and in some cases they tend to refute each other's perspectives. On the other hand, intense task conflict arises when coworkers usually disagree or dispute over their different opinions and ideas; and they are less likely to listen to others' opinions or alternative suggestions so that they forcefully and repeatedly attempt to persuade others to follow one's position

Mild conflict is generally more manageable than intense conflict. A number of studies find that mild task conflicts are more likely to produce and stimulate more information acquisition based on the assumption that in the cases of mild conflict, coworkers are more likely to develop positive attitudes which in turn increases the level of job satisfaction (Todorova et al, 2014). It also depends on the trust formation in a group. In a similar vein, constructive task conflicts prove to be more useful for reaching a higher degree of consensus whilst group decisions prove to have positive impact on individual acceptance and member satisfaction (Tompson, 2000). Moreover, the level of trust among group members affects the job satisfaction. If it increases, the level of job satisfaction will decrease when there is an intense task conflict (Amason, 1996).

AET model explains the linkages between employees' internal influences (e.g., cognitions, emotions, mental states) and their reactions to incidents that occur in their work environment that affect their performance, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction. In this situation, not only dose of conflict but also personality types should be analyzed in terms of job satisfaction. It is built on the emerging literature on the Five-Factor Model of personality argue that basic personality traits, as summarized by the Five-Factor Model of personality can help us understand why certain employees are more satisfied with their jobs than others. The five-factor model provides a framework, outline, and terminology to instigate and guide research involving personality (Cooper et al., 2014). In the big five factor model, there are five taxonomy neuroticism (emotional stability), extraversion, and openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

In this study, we will argue whether there is a relationship between the personality types and the type of conflict that causes positive emotions which is a reason of job satisfaction. It means that the personality types are used as variable component in the study.


Personality and Emotions

Each person is different from each other in terms of reactions and perceptions of their lives, also in a work environment. According to the big five traits, there exists five types of personality; neuroticism (emotional stability), extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. In this paper two of them namely agreeableness and emotional stability (neuroticism) thought to be the most affecting ones found through literature review will be discussed detailed and their effect on the research variables analyzed.

Agreeableness was defined by a number of personality words like "friendly," "goodnatured," "cooperative," "trustful," "nurturing," "sociable," and "considerate (Bozionelos, 2004; Goldberg, 1981). Less agreeableness causes more involved in their work that directly affects acknowledgement in their work environment. Individuals low on agreeableness should be more tolerant of anger (McCrae and Costa, 1987) and less distracted by stressful conflict (Suls et al., 1998). Also they are more likely to benefit from the motivating qualities of expressed anger established in previous work (Van Kleef et al., 2009). On the other hand high agreeableness leads to prioritize relationship with others over work and career success. Also, there is a negative relationship between agreeableness and extrinsic character success (Judge et al., 1999). Agreeableness moderates emotional reactions to conflict and non-conflict problem (Suls et all., 1998). The main characteristics of conscientiousness are industriousness, perseverance, and sense of duty.

It is inevitable that emotions are directly related to personality type (Jehn, 1997; Diener, 2000; Todorova et al, 2014). Emotional stability helps experience work happiness because it causes optimistic point of view. People, that score high, on neuroticism often may experience emotional instability and negative emotions. Generally, individuals are high in emotional stability is stable and calm (Illies and Judge, 2002). Thorndike and Hagen (1979) consider that emotional stability of a person is characterized by evenness of moods, intent, interests, optimism, cheerfulness, composure, feeling of being in good health, freedom from feeling of guilt, worry or loneliness, freedom from day dreaming, freedom from perseveration of ideas and moods. According to Diener (2000) optimistic people are more satisfied than others. Besides, they tend to consider positive outcomes as internal and stable and negative outcomes as external and temporary (Carver and Scheier, 2001). Neuroticism should be less likely to develop positive attitudes towards their work (Bozionelos, 2004). Moreover, there is a negative correlation neuroticism and work performance (Judge et al., 2002). Neuroticism encompasses characteristics that include excessive worry, pessimism, low confidence, and tendencies to experience negative emotion. Emotional stability have been found to be generalizable predictors of both task-based and interpersonally based criteria and for behaviors that promote the attainment of organizational goals as well as behaviors that hinder the attainment of organizational goals (Mount et all.,2006: 596).

[H.sub.1a] There is a positive relationship between agreeableness and positive emotions.

[H.sub.1b] There is a positive relationship between emotional stability and positive emotions.

Personality and Job Satisfaction

Personality and job satisfaction are found to be related in several researches (Judge et al., 2002; Van den Berg and Feji, 2003). Agreeableness has positive correlated to life satisfaction and it probably produces job satisfaction (McCrae and Costa, 1991). Also, agreeableness affects the explanation variance of job satisfaction. According to Cooper et al. (2014), agreeable people tend to be happier all situations and they generally are more altruistic and trusting. As a result, it is not surprising that there is a robust empirical correlation between agreeableness and job satisfaction in a variety of contexts (Judge et al., 2002).

Neuroticism also influences perception of life. These people are generally experience negative incidents (Magnus et al, 1993). Neuroticism is related and integrated with anxiety and it makes people less satisfied in their lives, naturally in the workplace. Meta-analysis of Judge et al where they find that neuroticism is "the strongest and most consistent correlate of job satisfaction". As a result, we expect that respondents who score higher on neuroticism will have lower reported levels of job satisfaction (Cooper et al., 2014).

Neuroticism will predict within individual variability in negative affect. For...

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