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Conflict management in the Third Sector: How conflict and trust between volunteers and paid staff affects team performance and well-being

Conflicts in non-profit organizations (NPOs) are a recurrent research topic in Third sector’s literature, particularly between paid staff and volunteers (Mcduff, 1995; Netting et al. 2008). However, a specific and systematic theoretical framework to explain and categorized specific conflicts in this context, is still missing. On the contrary, traditional conflict taxonomies (Jehn 1995, 1997) are applied even though NPOs are quite particular and complex in terms of organizational structure, diversity at the workplace as well motivational mechanisms and values rationality. The structure of these organizations, as well as the complexity of its work, that requires a great coordination among organization members, seems to be an appropriate scenario to elicit disputes. Indeed, previous research on this matter pointed out that the differences between volunteers and paid staff in terms of which are their duties and responsibilities or their different criteria regarding how things should be done in the organization are regular sources of conflict (Kreutzer & Jäger, 2011; Netting, Nelson, Borders & Huber, 2008; Rizzo, House & Lirtzman, 1970). The main objectives of this Doctoral Dissertation are to analyze first, the existent types of conflict in a Third Sector non-profit organization and second how are they are managed by the main stakeholders in project teams: paid staff and volunteers, at different levels of the organization. These objectives will be analyzed along four studies combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies: first, a systematic literature review on conflict, trust and conflict management between volunteers and paid staff. Second, a qualitative study to understand the organization and its functioning as well as identify the main sources of conflicts among these collectives. Finally, two quantitative studies, analyzing the antecedents and consequences of the identified types of conflict and the role of trust as well as how the coexistence of paid staff and volunteers affects performance at different organizational levels.

Date:18 Sep 2018  →  Today
Keywords:Conflict, Conflict management, Third sector, Nonprofit organizations, Trust
Disciplines:Applied psychology, Sociology of organisations and occupations
Project type:PhD project