The effects of incentive structures and conflict management on perceived decision quality and the strength of consensus

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Virginia Tech


This study investigated the effects of group and individual incentive structures as well as collaborative and competitive conflict management strategies on consensus and perceived decision quality. Results showed group incentives encouraged collaborative conflict management while group incentives and collaborative conflict management both encouraged the perception of consensus and decision quality. At the same time individual incentives encouraged competitive conflict management while individual incentives and competitive conflict management each reduced the perception of consensus and decision quality. I used questionnaires to measure the perception of conflict management strategies, consensus, and decision quality with a sample size of 120. I wasn't able to substantiate the same hypotheses relating to actual consensus, which I measured mathematically on the group level through a rank procedure. The sample size for actual consensus was 30 groups.

In an exploratory effort to understand a behavioral aspect of decision making groups, I found that individuals I verbal behaviors concerning how often they had spoken during the group process correlated significantly with individuals' perception of how influential individuals were on the final group ranking.

In the experiment, I used 120 students from an introductory psychology class at Virginia Tech. The sample consisted of 63 males and 57 females. All subjects watched the movie called "12 Angry Menll and were asked to decide by themselves on the order in which the 12 jurors would change their vote from guilty to not guilty. I formed groups of four, and exposed them to either group incentives or individual incentives before they were asked to make a group decision on the same ranking. I intended group and individual incentive structures to cause collaborative and competitive conflict management strategies, respectively.