When Work and Family Merge: Understanding Intragroup Conflict Experiences in Family Farm Businesses
Paskewitz, Emily Ann
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Family farms experience conflict in the everyday operation of the farm (Weigel & Weigel, 1990). However, family farm members rarely bring up conflicts to the other party; rather, they keep their frustration to themselves or wait until things boil over. Waters (2013) noted family farm members avoid bringing up any conflict or issues, with one son noting “basically, dad says we’re doing this and I say okay” (Waters, 2013, p. 30). It is in this communicative environment that a business functions, attempting to remain profitable, while maintaining family bonds that are the foundation of the business itself. This project used intragroup conflict theory to explore the dynamics of everyday conflict in family farm businesses. Intragroup conflict theory presents four types of conflict (task, relational, process, and status) that influence group outcomes differently (Jehn, 1997). The first focus of this project was how these four conflict types influence three important outcomes for family farm members: job satisfaction, communication satisfaction, and profitability. Only status conflict significantly predicted all three outcomes variables for family farm members. Additionally, this project furthered intragroup conflict theory by exploring two potential antecedents for intragroup conflict: emotional intelligence (awareness of own and management of own) and family communication patterns (conversation orientation and conformity orientation). Conformity orientation significantly predicted task, process, and status conflict in the model. These findings were discussed in light of the previous theoretical work in family businesses, then in the family farm context specifically.