Power without Status as a Breeding Ground for Conflict
Coauthor(s): Anicich, E. M., Fast, N. J., Halevy, N., & Galinsky, A. D.
It is often presumed that interpersonal conflict stems from incompatible personality types. The present research provides an alternative account. Drawing on the social hierarchy literature, four studies find that high-power/low-status roles lead to interpersonal conflict by fostering demeaning behaviors toward others. In Study 1 employees whose roles provided power without status reported experiencing more conflict than those in other roles, an effect that was mediated by their own tendency to disrespect coworkers. Study 2 replicated these findings with an experimental manipulation of power and status. Study 3 had a yoked design that further established high-power/low-status individuals as the source of conflict. Finally, Study 4 utilized survey and HR data from a large government agency to test whether increasing status reduces the tendency for high-power/low-status individuals to experience conflict. These findings move beyond person-based, compositional explanations for interpersonal conflict and highlight the importance of making a theoretical distinction between power and status.
Anicich, E. M., Fast, N. J., Halevy, N., & Galinsky, A. D. "Power without Status as a Breeding Ground for Conflict." , Columbia Business School, (2013).