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Knowledge Sharing Behavior and Cognitive Dissonance: The Influence of Assertive Conflict Management Strategy and Team Psychological Safety

Authors: Matthew P. Mancini, Vincent Ribiere


Today’s workers face more numerous and complex challenges and are required to be increasingly interdependent and faster learners. Knowledge sharing activities between people have been understood as a significant element affecting organizational innovation performance. While they do have the potential to spark cognitive conflict, disagreement is important from an organizational perspective because it can stimulate the development of new ideas and perhaps pave the way for creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage. How teams cope with the cognitive conflict dimension of knowledge sharing and the associated interpersonal risk is what captures our attention. Specifically, assertive conflict management strategies have a positive influence on knowledge sharing behaviors, and team psychological safety has a positive influence on knowledge sharing intention. This paper focuses on explaining the impact that these factors have on the shaping of an individual’s decision to engage or not in knowledge sharing activities. To accomplish this, we performed an empirical analysis on the results of our questionnaire about knowledge-sharing related conflict management and team psychological safety in pharmaceutical enterprises located in North America, Europe, and Asia. First, univariate analysis is used to characterize behavior regarding conflict management strategy into two groups. Group 1 presents assertive conflict management strategies and group 2 shows unassertive ones. Then, by using SEM methodology, we evaluated the relationships between them and the team psychological safety construct with the knowledge sharing process. The results of the SEM analysis show that assertive conflict management strategies affect the knowledge sharing process the most with a small, but significant effect from team psychological safety. The findings suggest that assertive conflict management strategies are just as important as knowledge sharing intentions for encouraging knowledge sharing behavior. This paper provides clear insights into how employees manage the sharing of their knowledge in the face of conflict and interpersonal risk and the relative importance of these factors in sustaining productive knowledge sharing activities.

Keywords: Cognitive dissonance, conflict management, knowledge sharing, organizational behavior, psychological safety.

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