Organizational Conflict and Knowledge Creation: A Multiple Method Study in the Italian Health Care System

Organizational Conflict and Knowledge Creation: A Multiple Method Study in the Italian Health Care System

Luisa Varriale (Department of Management, University of Naples “Parthenope,” Naples, Italy), Paola Briganti (University of Naples “Parthenope,” Naples, Italy), Rosaria La Peruta (University of Naples “Parthenope,” Naples, Italy) and Maria Ferrara (University of Naples “Parthenope,” Naples, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/jisss.2012100102
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Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between organizational conflict and knowledge creation in the Italian health care system in order to identify the main determinants and effects of this relationship. The paper defines this relationship and investigates the interaction between conflict levels, management conflict styles and their effects on knowledge. Considering the innovative characteristic of the subject, the authors propose a multiple method study. First, the authors conducted a qualitative study on the dynamics of conflict and knowledge creation using the focus group technique (38 nurses selected from the Italian health care system). Second, the authors conducted a field study (180 nurses from Italian hospitals). The results show that the participants consider conflict more as a beneficial instrument for the creation of organizational knowledge and, at the same time, there is not always a significant and linear relationship between conflict characteristics and knowledge creation dimensions. Recent theories on organizational conflict underline the strategic role of conflict, as neither positive or negative, but always necessary to preserve and further the survival of a firm. Therefore, the outcomes of the application could prove very important in improving the organizational effectiveness and day-to-day efficiency of hospitals.
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Organizational Conflicts: Types, Levels, And Styles

Organizational conflicts represent a complex phenomenon that involves many actors and different process variables, linked through circular relationships of cause and effect.

Considering the social nature of the subject, “conflict means perceived divergence of interest, or a belief that the parties’ current aspirations cannot be achieved simultaneously” (Rubin, Pruitt, & Hee, 1994, p. 5). In organizational contexts, conflict arises when the cognitive and emotional frameworks of the parties have no trust in a common ground sharing the same interests or realizing different subjective goals simultaneously in a win-win game (Deutsch, 2006).

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