Conflicts as Triggers of Personal Growth: Post-Traumatic Growth in the Organizational Setup

Pia Helena Lappalainen


Organizational bullying and harassment constitute severe adversaries inducing trauma in their targets. As their occurrences began to proliferate alarmingly in the postmodern era, they started attracting academic and practitioner interest due to their implications for individual health and organizational productivity. More recently and coinciding with the adoption of facilitative conflict mediation methodology in organizations, incivility has increasingly been explored through the growth its consequences can potentially trigger in individuals. Thus far, conflict research has abounded in studies of e.g. mediator style, mediation process phases, disputant behavior and conflict types, while the longer-term influences of conflicts and the related mediation have attracted less research attention. This empirical investigation explores the negative undercurrents in team communication through their underlying causes and impacts on individuals. Second, it presents workplace conflict mediation as an instrument restoring team harmony and disputant egos. Finally, it analyzes the positive outcomes associated with conflict mediation and the way it changes individuals’ interaction styles. The findings are based on a qualitative investigation of conflict disputant perceptions, adopting participant observation (n=58) and a qualitative survey (n=42) of disputant perceptions to analyze expectations placed on mediator style and the socio-emotive load experienced during the mediation process. The results corroborate earlier findings indicating that the nondirective mediator style is frequently associated with discomfort in the conflict solution situation and less frequently with immediate satisfaction with the mediator style. Fortunately the nondirective style entails positive and longer-enduring organizational outcomes. Generally the findings confirm the key tenet of the restorative paradigm, describing the facilitative approach as an instrument promoting individual growth and organizational learning. Thematically, such renewal materializes as motivation for self-growth and skilling in self-reflective ability and communication.


Intra-Organizational Conflict; Restorative Mediation; Personal Growth.


Avey, J. B., Luthans, F., & Youssef, C. M. (2009). The Additive Value of Positive Psychological Capital in Predicting Work Attitudes and Behaviors. Journal of Management, 36(2), 430–452. doi:10.1177/0149206308329961.

Avey, J. B., Luthans, F., & Youssef, C. M. (2009). The Additive Value of Positive Psychological Capital in Predicting Work Attitudes and Behaviors. Journal of Management, 36(2), 430–452. doi:10.1177/0149206308329961

Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought‐action repertoires. Cognition & Emotion, 19(3), 313–332. doi:10.1080/02699930441000238.

L. Fredrickson, B., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive Emotions Speed Recovery from the Cardiovascular Sequelae of Negative Emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12(2), 191–220. doi:10.1080/026999398379718.

Gibson, D. E., & Callister, R. R. (2009). Anger in Organizations: Review and Integration. Journal of Management, 36(1), 66–93. doi:10.1177/0149206309348060.

De Dreu, C. K. W., & Weingart, L. R. (2003). Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 741–749. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.4.741.

Deutsch, M. (1983). Conflict resolution: Theory and practice. Political Psychology, 431-453.

Fineman, S. (2003). Understanding emotion at work. Sage.

Dahling, J. J. (2016). Exhausted, mistreated, or indifferent? Explaining deviance from emotional display rules at work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26(2), 171–182. doi:10.1080/1359432x.2016.1229307.

Medina, F. J., Munduate, L., Dorado, M. A., Martínez, I., & Guerra, J. M. (2005). Types of intragroup conflict and affective reactions. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20(3/4), 219–230. doi:10.1108/02683940510589019.

Rispens, S., & Demerouti, E. (2016). Conflict at Work, Negative Emotions, and Performance: A Diary Study. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 9(2), 103–119. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12069.

Kessler, S. R., Bruursema, K., Rodopman, B., & Spector, P. E. (2013). Leadership, Interpersonal Conflict, and Counterproductive Work Behavior: An Examination of the Stressor-Strain Process. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(3), 180–190. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12009.

Curhan, J. R., Neale, M. A., Ross, L., & Rosencranz-Engelmann, J. (2008). Relational accommodation in negotiation: Effects of egalitarianism and gender on economic efficiency and relational capital. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 107(2), 192–205. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2008.02.009.

Kopperud, Karoline Hofslett, Øyvind Martinsen, and Sut I. Wong Humborstad. “Engaging Leaders in the Eyes of the Beholder.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 21, no. 1 (February 7, 2013): 29–42. doi:10.1177/1548051813475666.

Bakker, A. B., Albrecht, S. L., & Leiter, M. P. (2011). Key questions regarding work engagement. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 20(1), 4–28. doi:10.1080/1359432x.2010.485352.

Benoliel, P., & Somech, A. (2012). The health and performance effects of participative leadership: Exploring the moderating role of the Big Five personality dimensions. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(2), 277–294. doi:10.1080/1359432x.2012.717689.

Pehrman, T., & Poikela, E. (2015). Työyhteisösovittelu–keino ratkoa konflikteja työpaikoilla. Työelämän tutkimus, 13(2), 127-139.

Morgan, G. (1997). Images of Organization. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

De Dreu, C. K. W., & Van Vianen, A. E. M. (2001). Managing relationship conflict and the effectiveness of organizational teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(3), 309–328. doi:10.1002/job.71.

Jehn, K. A. (1995). A Multimethod Examination of the Benefits and Detriments of Intragroup Conflict. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(2), 256. doi:10.2307/2393638.

Meng, J., Fulk, J., & Yuan, Y. C. (2013). The Roles and Interplay of Intragroup Conflict and Team Emotion Management on Information Seeking Behaviors in Team Contexts. Communication Research, 42(5), 675–700. doi:10.1177/0093650213476294.

Raver, J. L. (2013). Counterproductive Work Behavior and Conflict: Merging Complementary Domains. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(3), 151–159. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12013.

De Wit, F. R. C., Greer, L. L., & Jehn, K. A. (2012). The paradox of intragroup conflict: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(2), 360–390. doi:10.1037/a0024844.

Greer, L. L., & Jehn, K. A. (2007). The pivotal role of emotion in intragroup process conflict. Research on managing groups and teams, 10, 23-45.

Bear, J. B., Weingart, L. R., & Todorova, G. (2014). Gender and the Emotional Experience of Relationship Conflict: The Differential Effectiveness of Avoidant Conflict Management. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 7(4), 213–231. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12039.

Siira, K. (2013). Organizational conflict, conflict management, and communication: A social complexity perspective. Helsinki: Unigrafia.

Brubaker, D., Noble, C., Fincher, R., Park, S. K.-Y., & Press, S. (2014). Conflict Resolution in the Workplace: What Will the Future Bring? Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 31(4), 357–386. doi:10.1002/crq.21104.

Tallodi, T. (2015). Mediation's potential to reduce occupational stress: A new perspective. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 32(4), 361-388.

Charkoudian, L. (2012). Just My Style: The Practical, Ethical, and Empirical Dangers of the Lack of Consensus about Definitions of Mediation Styles. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 5(4), 367–383. doi:10.1111/j.1750-4716.2012.00113.x.

Domenici, K., & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in conflict management. Waveland Press.

Rothman, J. (2014). Reflexive Pedagogy: Teaching and Learning in Peace and Conflict Studies. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 32(2), 109–128. doi:10.1002/crq.21107.

Shallcross, L., Ramsay, S., & Barker, M. (2013). Severe Workplace Conflict: The Experience of Mobbing. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(3), 191–213. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12011.

Wall, J., & Kressel, K. (2012). Research on Mediator Style: A Summary and Some Research Suggestions. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 5(4), 403–421. doi:10.1111/j.1750-4716.2012.00117.x.

Hoffmann, M. H. (2005). Logical argument mapping: A method for overcoming cognitive problems of conflict management. International Journal of Conflict Management, 16(4), 304.

McDermott, E. P. (2012). Discovering the Importance of Mediator Style-An Interdisciplinary Challenge. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 5(4), 340–353. doi:10.1111/j.1750-4716.2012.00111.x.

Della Noce, D. J. (2012). Mediator Style and the Question of “Good” Mediation: A Call for Theoretical Development. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 5(4), 396–402. doi:10.1111/j.1750-4716.2012.00116.x.

Shan, W., Keller, J., & Imai, L. (2016). What's a masculine negotiator? What's a feminine negotiator? It depends on the cultural and situational contexts. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 9(1), 22-43. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12065.

Hong, A. P. C. I., & van der Wijst, P. J. (2013). Women in Negotiation: Effects of Gender and Power on Negotiation Behavior. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(4), 273–284. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12022.

Tinsley, C. H., & Brett, J. M. (2001). Managing Workplace Conflict in the United States and Hong Kong. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 85(2), 360–381. doi:10.1006/obhd.2000.2944.

Harinck, F., Shafa, S., Ellemers, N., & Beersma, B. (2013). The Good News about Honor Culture: The Preference for Cooperative Conflict Management in the Absence of Insults. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(2), 67–78. doi:10.1111/ncmr.12007

Rich, G. J. (2016). The promise of qualitative inquiry for positive psychology: Diversifying methods. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(3), 220–231. doi:10.1080/17439760.2016.1225119.

Vinten, G. (1994). Participant Observation: A Model for Organizational Investigation? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 9(2), 30–38. doi:10.1108/02683949410059299.

Whittemore, R., Chase, S. K., & Mandle, C. L. (2001). Validity in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Health Research, 11(4), 522–537. doi:10.1177/104973201129119299.

Vidich, A. J. (1955). Participant Observation and the Collection and Interpretation of Data. American Journal of Sociology, 60(4), 354–360. doi:10.1086/221567.

Tedlock, B. (1991). From Participant Observation to the Observation of Participation: The Emergence of Narrative Ethnography. Journal of Anthropological Research, 47(1), 69–94. doi:10.1086/jar.47.1.3630581.

Crawford, P., Brown, B., & Majomi, P. (2008). Education as an Exit Strategy for Community Mental Health Nurses: A Thematic Analysis of Narratives. Mental Health Review Journal, 13(3), 8–15. doi:10.1108/13619322200800017.

HBR Survey (2015). How do people communicate during conflict. Harvard Business Review, June, 22.

Arpawong, T. E., Rohrbach, L. A., Milam, J. E., Unger, J. B., Land, H., Sun, P., … Sussman, S. (2014). Stressful life events and predictors of post-traumatic growth among high-risk early emerging adults. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(1), 1–14. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.994223.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.28991/SciMedJ-2019-0103-2


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Pia Helena Lappalainen