By Michael Weinhardt

Entrepreneurial groups consist of individuals bound together by their joint engagement in founding and running a business. Conflict in such teams may affect group performance, innovation, team development, as well as team efficiency and cognitive trust and may eventually lead to team member exit.

Typically, it is very difficult to establish causal relationships in this area of research. Intervention studies, set up as field experiments or randomized controlled trials of group conflict, could change this. They are scientific experiments conducted in the natural habitat of research subjects, randomly assigning a treatment to different entrepreneurial groups. While inducing conflict deliberately as a treatment would be unethical, researchers only need to experimentally influence the probability of conflict happening.

Starting with a probability survey of entrepreneurial groups, a subsample is selected randomly as the treatment group. The treatment consists of tools and services for conflict management and prevention, provided and paid for by the researchers. The remaining sample serves as the control group. Assuming that conflict is a constant companion of entrepreneurial groups, the treatment would reduce conflict levels compared to the non-treatment group. The resulting exogenous variation in conflict levels allows to investigating the causal influence of group conflict on group outcomes.


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Michael Weinhardt



Published: 20 Nov, 2020

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