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Dances with Thieves: How stealing ideas vs. money influences how coworkers manage conflict with a thief
Keywords: Conflict Management Style; Creativity; Unethical Behavior
Abstract: In a series of experimental studies, we explore the types of conflict management styles individuals adopt when engaged in conflict with a known (idea vs. money) thief. We find that when a counterpart has a reputation for stealing ideas, participants are more likely to adopt a competitive/dominating conflict management style, whereas when a thief has a reputation for stealing money, participants prefer an avoidance style. We show this is because individuals express a greater degree of certainty around what conflict looks like with an idea thief, resulting in a more dominating conflict management style. In contrast, when a thief has stolen money, participants report a greater degree of uncertainty concerning how conflict with their counterpart may unfold, increasing their preference for an avoidance conflict management style.