UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Professor Bernard Nijstad, University of Groningen, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Conflict, cooperation, and team creativity.’
It has been suggested that task conflict (disagreement among team members about task-related issues) may stimulate team creativity, but meta-analysis has not revealed a strong association. However, some primary studies found positive effects under certain conditions or a curvilinear relation between task conflict and creativity. Building on the Motivated Information Processing in Groups model (MIP-G; De Dreu, Nijstad, & Van Knippenberg, 2008), I propose that task conflict potentially triggers group level information processing, but that effects on creativity critically depend on team members’ motivation to achieve collective goals. Two multi-source field studies (one cross-sectional, and one longitudinal) provide evidence for this line of reasoning and show that task conflict has positive effects on team creativity mainly when both task and outcome interdependence are high. When task and outcome interdependence are misaligned, effects of task conflict on team creativity tend to be negative. These results indicate that the effects of team processes critically depend on the structural properties of the team.