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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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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.

Lillien Ellis, Cornell University

Joshua Katz, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Phoebe Strom, Cornell University


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