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Work and Organizational Psychology

The Dynamics of Conflict and Negotiation

Understanding the development and reducing the negative impact of intra-team conflicts

Team work is the norm rather than the exception in most modern organizations and the occurrence of conflicts within teams is inevitable. Research has repeatedly shown the negative impact of both task-related and more relational conflict on team performance, team viability and individual wellbeing. We investigate how (negative) conflicts within teams arise, how these conflicts are perceived by team members, and how the negative outcomes of conflicts in teams can be mitigated. We particularly focus on the role of individuals’ conflict handling styles and leadership styles within teams.

Homan, A. C., Van Kleef, G. A., & Sanchez-Burks, J. (2016). Team members' emotional displays as indicators of team functioning. Cognition and Emotion, 30, 131-149.

Cooperation dilemma in intergroup conflict

All individuals are part of several social groups and within these groups; they cooperate with each other to enhance individual and group well-being. When two of such groups get into conflict, a cooperation dilemma emerges for all individuals: Who to cooperate with? Cooperation with and investing in the own group, parochial cooperation, would help the own group but may adversely impact the other group and escalate conflict. A cooperative attitude toward the collective of both groups combined can help to install peace but may be risky and perceived as disloyal by the own group members. By using experimental game paradigms, our research investigates factors determining when individuals choose for parochial cooperation or for combined or universal cooperation.

Aaldering, H., Van Kleef, G. A., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (in druk). Parochiale en universele cooperatie in intergroepsconflicten. Gedrag en Organisatie.


When conflicting parties do not manage to solve their conflicts through dyadic interactions (negotiations), they may invoke the help of a mediator. What psychological factors contribute to successful mediation outcomes? We investigate how the relationship between mediator and clients (‘rapport’) and the way mediators regulate emotions during the mediation trajectory, as well as the personal mediation styles used by the mediator, contribute to satisfactory outcomes for all parties involved.

Representative negotiations

How do representatives of large groups, for example labor unions or organizations, balance diverging interests when negotiating with each other? Both representatives are incentivized by their constituency to adopt a competitive negotiation strategy, but also need to reach a mutually beneficial lasting agreement with the other party. We investigate how factors on different levels (individual differences within representatives, intragroup factors within the constituency and intergroup factors regarding the existing intergroup relations) influence representatives’ negotiation strategy and outcomes.

Aaldering, H., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2012). Why hawks fly higher than doves: The effects  of intra-group conflict on representative negotiation. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 15, 713 – 724.

Aaldering, H., Greer, L. L., Van Kleef, G. A., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2013). Interest (mis)alignments in representative negotiations: Do pro-social agents fuel or reduce inter-group conflict? Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120, 240-250.

Aaldering, H., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2014). Integratief onderhandelen: oog voor beider belangen. Tijdschrift Conflicthantering, 9, 17-22.

Beersma, B., & Ten Velden, F. S. (2014). Negotiation. In C.L. Cooper, M. Vodosek & D. Hertog (Eds.), Wiley encyclopedia of management (vol. 6: International management) - 3rd ed. New York: Wiley.

Faculty working on The Dynamics of Conflict and Negotiation are: Hillie Aaldering, Astrid Homan, and Femke ten Velden.