It’s Not Personal, It’s Positional: The Interactive Effects of Power and Status on Relationship Conflict
Coauthor(s): Anicich, E. M., Fast, N. J., Halevy, N., & Galinsky, A. D.
It is often presumed that relationship conflict stems from incompatible personality types. In contrast to this idea, the present article provides a role-based account. Four studies, conducted both in the field and laboratory, indicate that occupying roles that afford power but lack status leads to relationship conflict by fostering demeaning attitudes and behaviors. In Study 1, supervisors in a federal agency experienced higher levels of relationship conflict when their roles provided power without status. Study 2 replicated this finding in a broader array of organizations and found that the effect was mediated by the tendency to show disrespect toward coworkers. Study 3 focused on dyadic processes in the workplace to establish when and why power without status leads to relationship conflict. In Study 4, participants that were randomly assigned to high-power/low-status roles created relationship conflict by being more demeaning toward their partners compared to other combinations of power and status. The present findings highlight the importance of making a theoretical distinction between power and status and move beyond person-based, compositional explanations for relationship conflict.
Anicich, E. M., Fast, N. J., Halevy, N., & Galinsky, A. D. "It’s Not Personal, It’s Positional: The Interactive Effects of Power and Status on Relationship Conflict." , Columbia Business School, (2013).