According to a research done by Accenture, 43% of the Top Management Team (TMT) members participated in the survey said that they have given preference to individual and business unit goals than to organizational goals. Top management teams (TMT) come into picture in organizations, where more information is required and the problem is more unique, complex and ambiguous. TMT consists of chairman, CEO, COO, CFO and other next highest management tier. I did a research on conflict management in top management teams based on secondary research and literature review. I have reviewed 48 scholarly published international journal papers from Harvard Business Review, Academy of Management Review, American Anthropologist, The Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management Psychology, Strategic Management Journal, etc.

 Research questions: I started with the research questions of what are the reasons for conflicts in TMTs?, What are the top conflict resolution techniques used by TMTs? And Which factors impact TMT performance?

Conceptual Model: From the secondary research, literature review and systematic review, a conceptual model of conflict management in TMTs is derived. TMT conceptual model consists of factors such as TMT Characteristics, TMT Processes, CEO Characteristics, TMT Shared Capabilities, Individual Characteristics, Task Characteristics, and Environmental Factors impacting TMT Conflicts. TMT Conflicts in turn impact TMT Performance. TMT Conflicts can be Cognitive Conflict (also known as task conflict), and Affective Conflict (also known as relationship conflict). One more type of conflict possible in teams is process conflict.

Findings: I could identify 66 reasons for conflicts in TMTs which come under categories such as Individual reasons, Team Reasons, Organizational Reasons and Environmental Reasons. Similarly, I could identify 55 different conflict resolution techniques used by TMTs in organizations (based on literature review). Based on the reference count in collected literature, top-5 reasons for conflicts in TMT and top-6 conflict resolution techniques used by TMTs are identified; they are as follows:

SL.No. Top-5 Reasons for Conflicts in TMTs SL.No. Top-6 Conflict Resolution Techniques used by TMTs
1. Value Differences 1. Avoidance
2. Resources 2. Compromise
3. Attitudes 3. Withdrawal
4. Structures 4. Collaboration
5. Lack of Trust in TMT 5. Confrontation
6. Integration

One Most Important Finding is: Out of top-6 conflict resolution techniques used by TMTs, 5 such as (avoidance, compromising, withdrawal, collaboration and integration) will avoid argument or dispute with the other party involved in conflict. Hence, this indicates that TMTs add value to organizations.

Other Inferences: Cognitive conflict (task conflict) positively related to TMT performance. Affective conflict (relationship conflict) is negatively related to TMT performance. It can impact decision quality. One more interesting finding is some of the conflict resolution techniques used (however less frequently used) by TMT members include: crying, dominating, forcing, hiding, fighting, leave, resignation, open communication, humor, lumping, etc.

To explore/read more: Sudhakar, G.P. (2017), “The Role of Conflicts in Top Management Teams”, Proceedings of International Conference on “Innovative & Sustainable Business Practices”, Department of Management Studies, University of Madras, 10th February, 2017, Published in International Journal of Business Intelligence & Innovations, Special Volume, Issue 4, pp. 608-616, February 2017, ISSN: 2348-4705.

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