Sample HR Management Research Paper on The Relationship between Ethical Leadership and Workplace Conflicts: The Mediating Role of Employee Resolution Efficacy

The Relationship between Ethical Leadership and Workplace Conflicts: The Mediating Role of Employee Resolution Efficacy


In places where people are working together, there are occasions when there is disagreement, and this brings conflicts within the workplaces. The disagreements can either be full blown and or can be catalysts to the process of problem-solving. Good and committed leaders identify the problem in its early stages, ensures the involved parties know what the issues are, and then gives the allowance of each person to clarify their opinions and perspectives with equal time allocation to each person to express their views. The right leaders would set a tone for the resolution of the conflicts. They find out compromise areas and then differentiate between disagreements in substance and those done in style (Elshaug, Knott & Mellington, 2004). Good leadership ensures the employees handle disagreements in productive, proactive and understand when and the right way to intervene.

Conflicts in the workplace also mean an existence of less commitment in a workplace. From research, Human resources manager’s report from a survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) The SHRM report indicated that over 60 percent of the respondents had witnessed violent incidents in their places of work over a period of previous three years. The fights have been as a result of personality conflicts within the organizations. The conflicts at workplaces are inevitable. In settings where there is a different personality, disagreements will occur. In case these conflicts are left unchecked, they can create frictions and more profound conflicts in the workplaces, and this will ultimately affect the workers. In some extreme cases, the workplace can stand to become a toxic place for the employees.

The procedures for workplace conflict resolution are critical in the establishment of an environment that is healthy for workers. The process begins with one another mutual respect and then ends with ethical standards processes that establish a tone where conflicts are brought in open, and the different parties treated fairly (Bingham & Conner, 2015). In case the matter cannot be resolved amicably, then the said person may have to be reassigned to another department or areas to restore an environment that is productive and healthy.

Research Problem

Conflict in the workplace is a natural and regular occurrence due to differences in staff’s values and personalities. While employee conflict can trigger beneficial changes in the work environment, unresolved tensions can impact on an organization negatively. Notably, the conflict may lead to depression and hopelessness among other adverse emotions, which may have adverse ripple effects on workers’ behavior. For instance, they may exhibit emotional or physical withdrawal from their duties, aggression, or violence, thus reducing an organization’s productivity. In the past 50 years, numerous researchers have documented on causes of employee conflict and its concomitant impacts on an organization. Unfortunately, these studies have paid less attention to the role of ethical leadership in conflict management. The sparse literature has focused on how leadership contributes to ethical or unethical results (Dollard & Knott, 2004). Markedly, there is a scarcity of information of how leaders can nurture a working environment, which manages diverse challenges naturally in the workplace, such as various types of employee conflicts. Besides, there lacks a critical analysis of how ethical leadership impacts the three types of employee conflict: Relationship Conflict (RC), which involves personal issues; Task Conflict (TC), which stems from differences in opinion concerning certain tasks; and Process Conflict (PC), a conflict involving the operation of performing tasks.

Research Questions

  • Is there a relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflicts?
  • What is the role of ethical leadership in increasing employees’ resolution efficacy?
  • What is the mediating role of employee resolution efficacy?

Research Aim

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflicts carefully. It seeks to analyze relationship conflict, task conflict, and process conflict exhaustively about moral leadership. Further, the research aims at testing the theoretical process overarching the exceptional association between workplace conflict and moral leadership. The purpose of examining the interaction between ethical leadership and conflict is to enhance understanding on how leaders neutralize disagreements, enable employees to manage their differences effectively, and nurture cooperation in the workplace. 

By establishing and verifying the theoretical model that connects ethical leadership and employee conflict, this study intends to build on the existing literature in three ways. Firstly, it introduces the Social Learning Theory (SLT) in studying the relationship between leadership and workplace leadership. Secondly, it aspires to develop a theoretical model for comprehending the psychological processes that connect ethical leadership and conflicts. It focuses on conflict mitigation factors, such as resolution efficacy. Finally, the paper intends to contribute to the existing research by focusing on corporations in Africa. Notably, numerous studies in the past have focused on enterprises in Eastern and Western nations. 

Research Objectives + Hypotheses

The primary objective is to extend a major line of research by broadening the Social Learning Theory (SLT). Bandura’s (1977 and 1986) Social Learning Theory states that junior staff members learn and practice to behave appropriately by modeling or copying the behavior of attractive role models (Bingham & Conner, 2015). Consequently, this study assumes that ethical leaders are bound to inspire employees to engage in ethical behavior and to resolve workplace conflicts effectively. Leaders who respect their colleagues, treat employees fairly, and listen and value the ideas of others, among other ethical practices, are highly likely to inspire employees to seek appropriate alternatives to resolve workplace conflicts (self-efficacy). Self-efficacy, synonymous as resolution efficacy, is an employee’s belief in the personal cognitive ability to resolve any conflict that may arise in the workplace. Notably, the Social Learning Theory (SLT) provides an ideal theoretical framework since it combines both leadership and conflict literature to analyze the relationship between ethical leadership and diverse types of workplace disputes.


As employees witness and model ethical leader’s behavior, they gain confidence and mastery in executing their duties and building healthy social relationships. As a result, they believe in their ability to engage in behavior that mitigates or resolve workplace conflict.

Hypothesis 1: there is a positive relationship between ethical leadership and workers’ resolution efficacy.

Research shows that employees with a high-resolution efficacy of resolving conflict respect their co-workers and refrain from activities that may trigger relationship conflict. They believe that relationship conflict signals lack respect to colleagues. Further, as workers’ resolution efficacy increase, they trust that they can resolve any conflict while demonstrating tolerance for other people’s ideas. Therefore, with excellent resolution efficiency, the likelihood of task conflict is low.  

Hypothesis 2: As employees increase their levels of resolution efficacy, instances of relationship conflict reduce. This is true since an increase in the resolution efficacy increases an individual’s capacity to make resolutions on their lives. The resolution might be as a result of the training and or good leadership from the management.

Hypothesis 3: Resolution efficacy is associated with task conflict negatively.

A resolution efficacy where the involved employees become emancipated to understanding problem solving and conflict resolution will reduce greatly the issues with task conflict.

Hypothesis 4: Resolution efficacy is inversely proportional to process conflict.

Significance of the Study

Workplace conflict is something that should always be anticipated in any effective organization. People emanate from different backgrounds, with different upbringing and personality traits. Ethical leadership behooves the leaders to understand the circumstances under which conflicts arise, how to develop standard operations on conflicts and the conflict resolution mechanisms. Therefore, this study is significant vital since it will demystify the existing relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflict (Chughtai, Byrne & Flood, 2015). The paper will also determine how ethical leadership can increase employees’ resolution efficacy.

Research Limitation

The research place is critical since it gives a representation of the entire process and the results would be used to make general applications. Therefore, the research location and coverage are necessary and critical to any research process. The scope of this research is limited to United Arab Emirates and also in Abu Dhabi.

Organization of the Research

 The research is organized regarding chapters with each chapter explicitly addressing itself to a specific field. There is an introduction, research problem, objectives, significance, limitation, and others like methodologies and references. There is a smooth transition from one subject to another throughout the research process.


Ethical Leadership- is a type of leadership directed by a mutual respect for ethical beliefs, morals, rights, and dignity for the other people

Resolution efficacy- means that the persons introspectively have developed internal mechanisms for problem-solving.

Process Conflict –involves steps in the alleviation of disagreement, fighting and resolving problems in an organization.

Task Conflict- is a process that happens when different parties are unable to proceed with tasks because of differing needs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Conflict Resolution- is a mechanism where two or more involved parties try to locate a peaceful solution to an existing disagreement among them.

Workplace Conflict- refers to the state of discord that is caused by actual and or perceived opposition of values, needs, and interests of different people working in an organization.

Relationship Conflict- is a state that results when personalities clash or either the negative emotional interactions occur between two or more individuals.

Self-efficacy- this is the self-confidence an employee has on job-related tasks and indeed are more likely to develop greater confidence in finishing similar tasks in the near and future times.

Literature Review


The literature review brings forth the different research that has already been done by another researcher in the same field. The researcher must extensively find other literature information that is related to the field under study. For this course, it is the mediation role of employee resolution efficacy in conflict management and ethical leadership. Ethical leadership requires good leaders to take up their roles and ensure that workplace conflict is resolved amicably. Employee efficacy requires that the employees within the organization have an internal mechanism to solve the conflicts that arise during the work processes (Kidder, 2007). There are those employees who might not have the capacity to deal with conflicts and such category of workers requires professional support and leadership empowerment.

Consequently, conflict management should be a career development and professional capacity building advanced towards the employees for their productivity. It helps build their internal mechanisms and courage to resolve issues that arise during the work processes. Similarly, it takes an ethical leadership to foster good working relations within the organization between the workers themselves and also between the employees and their leaders. The ethical leadership has a role to not only create an environment where all the employees are secure and safe but also to solve issues and conflicts that come with working processes.

Therefore, the literature review will find literature on ethical leadership, resolution efficacy and the relationship between ethical leadership and resolution efficacy. The literature review demonstrates that any particular ethical leadership empowers resolution efficacy among its employees in conflict resolution within the organizational working processes. Similarly, this research will determine the relationship between ethical leadership and resolution efficacy as the variables.

Ethical Leadership

 Being a boss does not mean that a person would become a good leader. Therefore, before discussing what ethical leadership is, it is essential to understand the major features of leadership itself. Yuki (2006) gives the following definition of leadership: 

            “The process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives” (p.8)

 At the same time, Northouse (2007) outlines that leadership is the process when an individual influences a group of others to achieve a set aim. Having those two definitions, one can define several significant features of leadership – process, group of individuals, goal achievement, and goal sharing, and influencing others. 

 Process feature means that leaders need to influence others and be influenced by a group they are leading. At the same time, this influence can be either negative or positive, depending on goal achievement state and stress factors within a group. The process can also mean the development of a person as a leader, as Rowe (2007) underlines, every person can become a leader. Group of individuals is also a feature of leadership. Being a leader involves task giving, controlling the process of goal achieving, and mentoring each member of a group. A person cannot be a leader without having a group. At the same time, the size of a group does not matter for a leader – it can be either a small group with two or three members or an international company with several hundred thousands of employees. Goal achievement and goal sharing are interrelated leadership features. All members of a group need to share a common goal to successfully achieve it. A leader needs to give clear goals to the members and direct them to their achievement. At the same time, all members of the group need to understand the importance of the goal and share its acceptance with the leader. Here, such feature as influencing others can be implemented. It may happen that one member of a group does not share the same goal with the rest of the group and its leader. The leader’s task is to influence that person and explain the significance of the goal.

 Applying all those features of leadership does not mean that a person would become an ethical leader. Here, the Enron case comes to mind. On the one hand, Enron’s leaders implemented all the features of good leadership. On the other hand, their leadership styles were unethical as it was aimed at fraud. Brown and Trevino (2006) underline that several institutions outline the significance of ethical leadership on working places.

Shapiro and Stefkovich (2016) define ethical leadership as the implementation of normatively appropriate conduct via personal behavior and interpersonal associations as well as the promotion of good conduct to colleagues through decision-making, reinforcement, and mutual communication. Brown et al. (2005) provide the following definition of ethical leadership:

“The demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two way communication, reinforcement, and decision making” (120)

Ethical leaders set an ideal example to their companions through their professional and personal lifestyle. Such leaders guide employees and deter them from engaging in interpersonally harmful behavior by inspiring them to implement normatively appropriate and desirable traits. Overall, ethical leaders use their social power to promote not only others’ interests but also that of the organization. Earlier empirical studies, such as Freeman (2016), have shown that ethical leadership differs from other types of leadership, such as transformational and authentic.

Trevino et al. (2000) conducted a survey in which they aimed to define what characteristics make an ethical leader. It has been revealed that an ethical leader needs to be honest, trustworthy, and fair, have high moral principles and standards, principled decision maker, a person who cares about others and have altruistic motives. At the same time, this research revealed another good characteristic of an ethical leader, which has been called “moral manager.” This means that a person does not only behave morally but influences others to behave better, make their decisions more ethical.

Chughtai, Byrne, and Flood (2015) emphasize that organizations can no longer underestimate the relevance of ethical leadership. The scholars note that the appropriateness of this critical field of research has increasingly become relevant. Notably, numerous once-successful enterprises have fallen from grace to unethical leadership. For instance, the fall of Enron, the Lehman Brothers, and the housing market were as a result of unethical behavior from leaders and employees alike. Mulki et al. (2015) note that lack of ethical leadership in Enron not only led to the collapse of the organization but also triggered strict government restrictions and reduced customer’s confidence in the financial industry. As Bouckenooghe, Zafar, and Raja, (2015) note, the dynamicity and fierce competition in the global marketplace hinder the implementation of ethical leadership significantly. Most organizations have a skeptical climate regarding ethics. Nonetheless, given the numerous businesses that have collapsed due to unethical behavior, some modern companies have redefined their strategic direction, with an emphasis on ethical leadership as the foundation of profitability.

A qualitative study by Chughtai, Byrne, and Flood (2015) shows that skepticism of ethics in organizations stemmed from the lack of trust between leaders and employees. In the study, 66% of the participants questioned the compatibility of leadership and ethics. While Peterson and Ferrell (2016) term the skepticism as a ‘crisis of trust,’ Wallensteen (2015) calls it the ‘effects of the shadow side’ of leadership. The shadow side of leadership encompasses favoritism, irresponsibility, inconsistency, and deception. When leaders practice these inappropriate behaviors, they expose followers to impacts of the shadow action. As a result, workers lose trust in the integrity of their leaders, disregard respect for members, and have low confidence levels of amicably solving workplace conflicts.

Employees do not always percept leaders as ethical and behave skeptically towards them. However, everything may change and influence how employees see an ethical leader. Brown and Trevino (2006) outline three situations, which can change the employees’ perception of a leader. Firstly, a leader can become a role model for his or her employees or team. At the same time, a leader does not need to prove anything or teach team members how to behave ethically. Instead, he or she needs to show how to do that. Likewise, a leader can become leader how to behave ethically from other leaders, or from his or her mentors. Weaver et al. (2005) define that ethical leaders, who are likely to become role models for their employees are not distant managers, but rather those, who work with their teams, provide constant feedback to the employees and stay side by side with workers.

Another essential factor, which can help a leader to become ethical, is the ethical concept within an organization. The point is that it is impossible to stay fair if the entire company is cheating. Ethical climate or ethical culture needs to be advanced in an organization. If an organization is following the code of ethical conduct, it is more likely that its employees will also follow it. However, it usually happens that a situation is out of control and a team or a leader needs to make a decision. Brown and Trevino (2006) underline that moral component needs to be recognized in every situation. To avoid consequences, a leader is required to estimate the situation and its moral value. It is also a chance for a leader to become ethical as each critical and non-critical situation demands to evaluate it using moral principles.

Executives concur that the challenge of ethical leadership lies in neither adhering to the law nor influencing others to implement appropriate behavior but in taking responsibility when problems arise in an organization. As such, Peterson and Ferrell (2016) state that an ethical leader is one whose decision-making process is directed by inward virtues. Contrary to popular assumptions, the scholar states that the goal of an ethical leader is not to motivate others but to adhere to innate personal virtues. Notably, employees are simply the beneficiaries of a leader living a virtuous life. Followers recognize these virtues when a leader demonstrates discernment, empathy, imagination, and compassion. 

In contrast, the Social Learning Theory states that ethical leaders reduce workplace conflicts by modeling appropriate behavior to employees. Drawing from Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, the study by Zhang et al. (2015) shows that workers always explore credible and attractive role models from whom they copy the appropriate behavior and implement them while interacting with colleagues, in their tasks, and in job processes. Over time of vicarious learning, employees gain the confidence to adhere to ethical behavior and augment their ability to resolve conflicts that may arise in the workplace. Arguably, ethical leadership enables leaders to be role models of how they manage workplace conflict and enhance employees’ ability to manage conflicts (resolution efficacy).

Resolution Efficacy

Regardless how ethical a leader are, conflicts usually happen in every workplace and in every team or group. A leader may conduct numerous training on conflict resolution; however, it may not be useful. Fusch and Fusch (2015) outline that conflicts on workplaces can be time and sources consuming, as well as they may be expensive to be resolved.

Before outlining how a conflict is resolved, it is essential to outline the type of conflict, which may occur on working place. The point is that different types of conflict require different solutions. Jehn (1997), Simons and Peterson (2000) and Zhang and Zhang (2012) define two types of conflict, which can occur: relationship conflict and task conflict. Task conflict occurs when a person or a team is unable to complete a task given by a leader or incompatibility of a task. On the contrary, relationship conflict arises between two or more members of a team, who cannot interact with each other due to emotional aspects, such as power, attitude, respect, or honesty. Jehn et al. (2008) define a third type of conflict – process. Process conflict is the type of conflict, which arises when a disagreement on how to perform the task occurs. These conflicts may arise when group members do not agree on responsibilities, logistical or delegation issues. To cope with all types of conflicts, a leader needs to understand the significance of conflict resolution.

Wallensteen (2015) defines resolution efficiency as the personal belief of having the power to resolve conflict issues effectively. The term ‘resolution efficiency’ derives from the concept of self-efficacy that alludes to a personal belief in the capability to excogitate desired outcomes. In their report, Zhang et al. (2015) draw from Bandura’s Social Learning Theory to show that employees can develop resolution efficacy through vicarious experiences, modeling, and enactive attainment. It is important to note that this essay focuses on direct modeling as the link between ethical leadership and employees’ resolution efficacy. Ethical leaders actively communicate the relevance of showing support and care for others and working together for the benefit of individuals and an organization.

Fusch and Fusch (2015) note that since ethical leaders appear genuine and trustworthy in their interpersonal relationships, employees feel safe to air their ideas regardless of differences in opinions. Undoubtedly, these leaders facilitate a work environment of cooperation and inspire their followers to model behavior toward their colleagues. Undoubtedly, and as emphasized in the Social Learning Theory, the behavior of ethical leaders can trickle down to workers. In the long run, they feel motivated to emulate the conduct of ethical leaders as well as embrace a constructive approach to workplace conflicts. More specifically, employees learn how to respect and value their colleagues, listen to others’ ideas, and behave appropriately despite differences in opinions. Leaders can resolve conflicts in different manners, which can also influence how they are percept by the employees or team members. Besides, different styles of conflict resolution influence the outcomes of conflicts for both parties.

Waithaka et al. (2015) outline several styles of conflict resolution. Forcing style can occur when a leader exercises great man theory as his or her leadership style. In this case, a leader tends to dominate others that is the team members and inculcates his or her ideas. In this case, a leader cannot possess ethical characteristics, as he puts himself higher than his team members. A leader can also execute the avoiding conflict resolution style. In this case, a problem is neglected. According to Waithaka et al. (2015, p. 6) “this is not an appropriate style for a workplace dispute as it does not deal with the core aspect of the conflict.” Dincyurek and Civelek (2008) define accommodation style as the one, during which two parties share their differences, which may have led to the conflict. Karip (1999) emphasizes that in this case, one party is obliged to ignore its interests. This conflict resolution style can be implemented by an ethical leader, as it helps to resolve a conflict efficiently. On the other hand, if it is not a conflict between a team member and a leader, this style of conflict resolution may harm a team member. Compromise as a conflict resolution style occurs when each party of a conflict seeks to find an ordinary resolution, which would not be harmful to an opponent. The point is to abandon interests and desires to find a right decision. This leadership style can be applied by an ethical leader. Here, the major point is to listen to the opponents and provide them with possible variants of resolving a conflict. Besides, in this case, a leader needs to show his or her attitude towards the parties of a conflict, so neither feels underestimated or humiliated.

Numerous researchers including Bouckenooghe, Zafar, and Raja (2015) show that listening skills and tolerance to others’ ideas are the foundations for high-resolution efficacy. Such communication expertise and endurance help employees avoid unnecessary conflicts and enhance their confidence to face and solve conflicting interests. The Social Learning Theory articulates the paramount conditions necessary for employees to model appropriate behavior from ethical leaders. Firstly, workers must consider their leader attractive, credible, and a legit role model. Basing on the Social Learning Theory, ethical leadership is associated with resolution efficacy positively since ethical leaders not only adhere to ethical behavior but also encourage followers’ resolution efficacy by listening, valuing, and considering ideas of others. Further, ethical leaders have a different definition of success. To them, it includes not only the attainment of goals but also the processes used to attain them. Consequently, ethical leaders provide learning opportunities even in social processes.

Malik, Butt, and Choi, (2015) opine that enactive attainment and modeling are highly critical for establishing resolution efficacy. Naturally, ethical leaders have the necessary skills to create and foster resolution efficacy in the workplace. Since such leaders motivate, value, care, and respect their employees, they affirm that workers have mastery or enactive attainment, which increases resolution efficacy.

However, a leader needs also to understand the significance of conflict resolution. Budd (2013) outlines several aspects of conflict resolution, which are to be recognized when helping team members solve their issues. The first and foremost aspect of conflict resolution is its efficiency. A leader is required to understand that conflict resolution process needs to be as efficient as possible to minimize a company’s losses. As noted above, a conflict may harm not only personal relations within a company or a team, but also negatively impact a company’s productivity. Budd (2013) maintains that unresolved conflicts may become an obstacle to improving a company’s performance.

Conflict resolution efficiency should be aimed to resolve conflicts “in an efficient way” (Budd, 2013, p. 4). This means that a leader requires minimum material and time resources to solve the conflict. If a leader does not cope with this task, he or she will show one’s inefficiency, which will be harmful to the working process. Equity is another aspect to be observed when resolving a conflict. A leader needs to be fair, honest, just and follow the procedure for conflict resolution. Here, a leader needs to remember to treat all parties to a conflict with due respect equal, be tolerant and observe privacy. The point is that a leader is obliged to forget about personal interactions or friendship while resolving a conflict.

Budd (2013) underlines voice as another aspect of conflict resolution. The voice here is percept not as a physical ability of a human being, but rather than a social ability of an individual. The point is that not only managers and team leaders are allowed to participate in conflict resolution, but also ordinary employees. If a grievance hearing occurs, both parties are allowed to have an advocate, and present their evidence. Besides, employees need to have a right to propose changes to the procedure for conflict resolution.

A leader needs to understand the significance of all the aspects and utilize them effectively in conflict resolution process. Ethical leaders strive to apply all the aspects of conflict solving procedure. More precisely, when people feel that leaders are genuinely passionate to see workers achieve their maximum potential, they are bound to treasure such learning process since ethical leaders make them partners in the achievement of corporate goals. Further, since ethical leaders display and encourage their followers to always ‘do what is right,’ employees experience a high sense of awareness regarding the moral consequences of their actions, thus triggering the desire to find resolutions (Karn, 2008). Simply put, as employees witness and observe their leaders model ethical behavior and encourage others to master appropriate traits, they gain the mastery of coping with their colleagues and intensifying the confidence and ability to resolve conflicting interests in the workplace. Undoubtedly, ethical leadership increases employees’ resolution efficacy. At the same time, a leader needs to estimate his or her abilities and implement them effectively. As noted above, different types of conflict require different approaches to resolution.

Resolution Efficacy and Workplace Conflict

When ethical leaders model and encourage their followers to adhere to morally acceptable behavior, workers attain high-resolution efficacy, which, in turn, minimizes the number and severity of workplace conflict. Bandura defines resolution effectiveness as the personal belief and estimation of an individual’s power to control actions that lead to desirable outcomes (Bingham & Conner, 2015). Several studies proved the conflict resolution efficacy aspects to be working. Hannah et al. (2008) proved leadership efficacy or leadership style to be effective in conflict resolution procedure, while Huang and Peterson investigated the role of voice as a conflict resolution aspect and proved it to be a significant component of conflict resolution. In other words, resolution efficacy is the personal conviction of the ability to avoid or manage conflict situation. Numerous researchers including Sheriff (2015) states that self-efficacy belief is critical in constructing specific behavior, such as leadership, creativity, voice, and task-related efficacy. At the same time, ethical leaders, as outlined by Babalola (2016) have more skills to resolve conflicts effectively compared to non-ethical leaders. It is suggested that ethical leaders possess required skills and experience to apply a necessary conflict resolution style or to recognize a type of conflict.

Fusch and Fusch (2015) distinguish resolution efficacy from generalized self-efficacy and task-specific efficacy by emphasizing that the former is specifically targeted at resolving conflicts. Naturally, employees who have high-resolution efficacy are competent in solving conflicts and governing their actions consciously during social interactions with colleagues, as they are following a role model of their ethical leader. Collectively, these skills and competencies reduce the occurrences of workplace conflicts. According to Bandura as noted by Mulki et al. (2015), employees with high efficacy beliefs are more likely to face and manage conflicts than their peers with low efficacy beliefs successfully. They are competent in managing all types of workplace conflicts, ranging from relationship conflict (RC), task conflict (TC), and process conflict (PC). Leon-Perez et al. (2015) expounds that relationship conflicts are disagreements that arise due to incompatibilities of personal beliefs, values, and characters. On the contrary, task conflicts occur due to differences of opinions and ideas of how specific tasks should be performed. Task conflicts may focus on procedures or allocation of resources. Finally, process conflicts are incompatibilities of opinions and ideas on approaches and processes of specific tasks.

Studies show that although to different degrees, all types of workplace conflicts have substantial impacts on individual well-being and organizational effectiveness. Empirical studies including by Wallensteen (2015) show that relationship conflicts affected employees’ performance and job satisfaction adversely since they hinder interpersonal relationships and lower one’s ability to focus on specific job-related tasks. Further research has established consistently that process conflict (PC) also reduces employees’ performance and satisfaction. Similar to RC, PC triggers tension among workers. More precisely, employees may regard conflicts involving the distribution of workload and responsibilities as an admonition to their self-worth. While there is consensus on the impacts of RC and PC on employees’ performance and job satisfaction, there are different opinions on the effects of TC. Previous studies suggested that process conflict is beneficial to an organization since it spurs diverse opinions necessary in the decision-making process. Recent researchers including Bouckenooghe, Zafar, and Raja (2015) suggest that although TC is less harmful compared to RC and PC, it can trigger personal conflicts since it revolves around personal convictions.

Nonetheless, Bandura’s assertion alongside new studies shows that resolution efficacy is inversely proportional to workplace conflicts (Bingham & Conner, (2015). For instance, Zhang et al. (2015) state that high-resolution efficacy lowers the likelihood of workplace conflicts since employees learn and obtain mastery from ethical leaders. With high-resolution efficacy, employees can discern how to deal with their colleagues and manage interpersonal conflicts associated with relationships, tasks, and processes.

Resolution Efficacy and Relationship Conflict

All people are different, having different views on how to perform a task and how to communicate with others. When creating a team, a leader needs to understand how different individuals are and know what to do in case any arguing occurs. Relationship conflicts are the most common in groups or team, as well as the most emotional. An ethical leader also needs to know what has to be done to avoid such conflicts. De Dreu and Van Vianen (2001) note that when performing a task, team members need to cooperate with each other, aiming to achieve a common goal rather than arguing. De Dreu et al. (1999) underline that conflicts may affect teams positively and negatively. However, relationship conflicts are usually negative.

Relationship conflicts (RC) is one of the three common types of workplace disputes. Relationship conflicts are those, which are not abandoned to working conditions but rather are provoked by interpersonal relations within a team. These conflicts can be based on religious, sex, racial, political, educational, emotional, friendship or background factors. For instance, it has always happened at school if a student is assigned a partner for an experiment, who does not seem attractive, for various reasons. Such assignment influences the quality and speed of work on the experiment. Such type of conflict is called relationship.

Relationship conflicts may arise on different stages of forming a team, at its beginning, when it is functioning properly and in the end. In the beginning, when a leader if forming a team, relationship conflict may arise if two persons, who express interpersonal dislikes, appear to work together. In this case, there are two possible versions of how the situation will go on. First, a dominant person may threaten another one to leave the team. Secondly, a dominated person may voluntary propose to leave a group. In both cases, a leader needs to resolve a conflict, so all the team members keep their current positions.

When a team is already formed and works for some time, relationship conflicts may also arise. The point is that at this stage, team members already know each other well, know about others’ views and beliefs. This gives a background for relationship conflicts on the issues, not related to work. Such conflicts can sabotage working process. In this case, an ethical leader is required to listen to all the conflict members and find a resolution with the minimum losses.

De Dreu and Van Vianen (2001) propose two solutions for relationship conflict. First, a leader designs methods to prevent such type of conflict, and second is to respond to relationship conflicts. The first opportunity proved to be effective by several researchers. It has been discovered that if a leader becomes a role model for the team members, they are lucky to avoid conflicts. The second proposition involves an accurate analysis of the conflict.

Bandura, in the Social Learning Theory, asserts that personal efficacy beliefs are critical in attaining desired ends. In respect to workplace conflict, workers’ efficacy beliefs in the ability to manage conflicts act as a cognitive and motivational resource to reduce indifferences with colleagues. In other words, employees with high-resolution efficiency can transform intentions and judgments of resolving conflicts into particular moral ends efficiently, which, in turn, reduce relationship conflicts that propagate through intimidation, raised voices, gossip, and hostility toward others. Since resolution efficacy embeds respect, trust, and open communication, employees are less likely to be involved in relationship conflicts (RC). Naturally, employees with excellent resolution efficacy are motivated to set aside their differences and establish appropriate ways to work with colleagues. Collectively, the attributes of healthy resolution efficacy reduce the chances and degree of relationship conflict in the workplace.

Sherif, (2015) concurred with this line of argument when studies’ results showed that people with high cognitive abilities to manage conflict greatly respect their co-workers. As a result, employees who show high-resolution efficacy will deter from situations or activities that may sire relationship conflicts as it alludes to the lack of respect and compromises the sustenance of healthy interpersonal relations. Notably, outstanding resolution efficacy reduces the likelihood of relationship conflict (RC) in the workplace.

Talking about relationship conflict, it is essential to outline its adverse effect on teamwork. Kidder (2007) outlines that relationship conflict, and lack of communication skills within a group or a team can lead to increasing of stress level at work. At the same time, relationship conflicts cost much both for employees and an organization. Elshaug et al. (2004) note that relationship conflicts are the most difficult to be solved and take much time for resolving them. This means that until a conflict is resolved, so each party is happy with its outcomes, work performance will decrease.

At the same time, addressing to legal issues, each person deserves safe and healthy workplace. In case if a relationship conflict arises, working conditions become unhealthy and unsafe. Kelloway and Day (2005) underline that relationship conflicts influence emotional, psychical and moral damage, which can negatively impact a person’s performance rate.

It is essential to understand that relationship conflicts may become a source of constant stress at work. An ethical leader needs to estimate not only causes of relationship conflicts, but also recognize first signs of the conflict. There have been several types of research on indicators which mean relationship conflict to be arising in the working place. Dollard and Knott (2004) estimate that a relationship conflict is about to burst out when a team, gathered in one room, shows lack of desire to work, as well as low performance. Elshaug (2004) underlines that relationship conflicts may have a psychical or psychological impact on employees. Therefore, if some of the team members are on sick leaves simultaneously, it can be a sign of a relationship conflict between some of the team members. Dollard and Knott (2004) also emphasize that if a relationship conflict is not resolved effectively in a short-term, it may have a negative impact on the team, as team members will tend to leave such working place. In such cases, a phenomenon of psychological injury occurs. Researchers state that psychological injury can be either individual or collective.

Observing such harmful consequences of relationship conflicts, an ethical leader needs to understand what can be done to resolve it or prevent. There are several types of resolving such conflicts, and most of them are still arguable. However, Simons and Peterson (2000), and De Dreu and Van Vianen (2001 agree that mediation is the best applicable technique to be used in resolving such conflicts.

Previously, several styles of conflict resolution have been illustrated, and it has been noted that compromise is the most effective if applied by an ethical leader. Mediation is compromise style of conflict resolution. Brigham (2004) suggests that mediation or compromise has several advantages compared to other styles of conflict resolution. First, it is less expensive, as it does not involve any investigation; besides, it strives to satisfy all the parties to the conflict. On the other hand, this type of conflict resolution is time-consuming, as a leader needs to listen to all the parties of a conflict.

Mediation can be divided into three parts or stages. Foremost, an ethical leader needs to evaluate the problem, and provide a legal and ethical background of it, as well as provide the parties of a conflict with weak and strong points of the conflict. During the second, facilitative, stage, an ethical leader, who serves as a mediator, in this case, is required to structure the conflict resolution process and encourage parties to provide their arguments. The last stage, transformative, requires a mediator to provide possible solutions, which can satisfy all the parties to a conflict. This stage can be the most time consuming, as the parties of a conflict need to reach an agreement.

This type of conflict resolution is believed to be effective when it comes to strong emotions, especially, negative ones. Besides, this type of conflict resolution is recognized to help in psychological injuries at working place, as well as in stress relief.

However, a leader must not forget about the major aspects of an efficient conflict resolution procedure, and he or she serves as a role model for the employees, and for the conflict parties. An ethical leader needs to behave during conflict resolution procedure as he or she would want the team members to behave, expressing respect to others, even with different points of view. Showing tolerance and equity towards all the parties of the conflict can help avoid such types of conflicts in the future. Regardless the fact that relationship conflicts are the most common within companies, teams or groups of individuals, and carry a negative impact on the community’s psychological health, they have always been interrelated with task conflicts and serve as an opposite. The point is that relationship conflicts can also have a positive impact on the group’s psychology if combined with task conflicts, which will be discussed and analyzed in detail in the following chapter.

Resolution Efficacy and Task Conflict

Simons and Peterson (2000) underline the tight connection between the relationship conflict, which has been discussed above, and the task conflict, which is to be analyzed further. Task conflict, as defined by Jehn (1995) is “a perception of disagreement among group members about the content of their decisions and involves differences in viewpoints, ideas, and opinions” (2). This means that team members argue not because they cannot interact with each other on a personal level, but rather they cannot interact with each other on a professional level. Simply put, task conflicts arise when team members cannot agree how one or another task is performed.

According to Khan et al. (2009), there are two types of task conflicts. Some of them may occur within a company, department, team or group and are known as intragroup conflicts. The other type of task conflicts occurs when two or more organizations cannot agree on how to perform a task and what responsibilities each of them will hold.

At the same time, such types of conflict can also arise in relationship conflicts. Here, it is essential to learn how to distinguish them. Simons and Peterson (2000) propose to distinct them by their consequences for the team or a department. Task conflict is usually beneficial for each conflict member, whereas relationship conflict carries only negative effect. However, here rises the question: How can a conflict be beneficial?

To answer this question, one is required to look at the nature of such type of conflict. When a task conflict occurs, each party of it strives to prove its effectiveness in solving a problem (but not a conflict). For instance, task conflict may occur when two or more team members argue on which method is to be used when completing a task. The parties provide their arguments and try to find a compromise, if possible. Here, the parties of a conflict strive to present arguments on how to improve the team’s performance, as well as the speed of completing the task.

Taking a look at the issue from the theoretical point of view, one may apply three aspects of efficient conflict resolution. Applying those aspects, it becomes obvious that task conflicts still carry a positive impact on the team’s performance. Quality, as one of the aspects, creates a positive impact on the group’s performance and experience. The point is that team members strive to find a decision, which would help to improve the task performance speed and quality. In this case, team members are not influenced by any interpersonal issue but focus on their common aim, which helps to succeed. Affective acceptance of the common decision is also beneficial for the experience of the team, as well as helps to resolve the conflict. To resolve such type of conflict, a team is required to agree to the decision proposed. The last aspect to be utilized in this analysis is the voice. Previously, it has been agreed that voice means each team’s member opportunity to propose a decision or express disagreement. Collective discussion leads to effective decisions, which, in turn, lead to conflict resolution.

Here, it has been discussed that task conflicts are a splendid opportunity to form a team into one body and improve its performance. However, Simons and Peterson (2000) disagree that task conflicts and performance are tightly connected. The researchers refer to previous studies, conducted by Amason (1996), Jehn (1997) and other, and suggest that task conflicts may also lead to negative consequences. The point is that if task conflicts are rather tense, they lead to lower performance. Simons and Peterson (2000) estimate that this phenomenon is related to the term in which a conflict is resolved. It is suggested that task conflicts, which do not require much time to be solved, tend to positively influence team’s performance, whereas task conflicts, which require much time to be solved, tend to decrease team’s performance. This can be explained by the fact that task and relationship conflicts are indeed interrelated. When a team is working on solving a conflict for a long time, its members are always simulated to work better and harder by other team members. In this case, relationship conflicts, powered by negative emotions, gathered during the task conflict resolution, burst out. On the other hand, when a team works on a short-term task conflict, its members do not have time for any personal arguing, which results in conflict resolution speed and quality increase.

De Clerco et al. (2015) outlines that task conflicts are beneficial not only for employees’ performance but also for their creativity. At the same time, creative problem-solving solutions can improve employees’ learning abilities. However, in this case, an ethical leader is required to recognize a person’s creative thinking abilities and propose to show them. Lui et al. (2015) underline that employees will be encouraged to solve a task conflict if they obtain the fullest information on the task, as well as have an opportunity to discuss it with other members of a team. At the same time, creativity in task conflict resolution can be achieved if a task conflict receives a high status. Lui et al. (2015) explain the high status of task conflict as that, which requires a fast solution. Here, the technique of brainstorming is usually used.

On the other hand, Khan et al. (2009) underline that task conflict does not have any direct relation to the high performance of a group or satisfaction of a team’s work. This is explained by the fact that new technologies have appeared which help to solve tasks alone. Besides, new working place realities do not require employees to attend meetings or work in an office.

Nevertheless, there are still those, who work in offices and are involved in teamwork, and ethical leaders are to know how to resolve task conflict effectively. Here, the main task of an ethical leader is to become a friend and a mentor for the team members. The ethical team leader is required to encourage team members to work on task resolution. At the same time, he or she is obliged to avoid a task conflict becoming a relationship conflict. Therefore, each task conflict is to be resolved in a timely manner.

At the same time, striving to resolve a task conflict, a leader may forget to percept each member of a team as a personality. DeChurch and Marks (2001) note that, if an intragroup conflict occurs, an ethical leader is obliged to receive responses of each member of a conflict. Besides, a leader needs to adhere to these responses as leading in the conflict resolution procedure.

Task conflict resolution may be difficult than it seems at the very first sight. Contrary to relationship conflict resolution, when an ethical leader needed to find a compromise between two parties, here the solution is to fir both the task performers and the demands of a project. In this case, recent researches propose several solutions. Lui et al. (2015) have defined a positive impact of social media on task conflict resolution. They state that an employee will work better on task conflict resolution if he or she is distracted by social media. At the same time, De Clerco et al. (2015) underlines that an ethical leader is to search for creative solutions, as well as engage employees to become creative. Besides, an ethical leader is to encourage continuous learning of every employee, as it is directly related to task conflict resolution effectiveness. It is also necessary to remember a common goal, which the team is striving to achieve. Reminding the employees about the goal can also improve the speed and quality of task resolution conflicts.

Mcalister, Marcos, and Ferrell, (2016) opined that strong efficacy beliefs help control certain behavior aimed toward the chances of goal attainment. For instance, increased efficacy beliefs are inclined toward attaining task-related objectives. Consequently, workers who have high confidences in their ability to solve problems are naturally inclined toward the task at hand and the attainment of goals. As Bandura noted in the Social Learning Theory, workers with high-resolution efficacy can handle diverse opinions about tasks since they are motivated to attain goals and are also tolerant of other people’s ideas (Bingham & Conner, 2015). Therefore, people with exceptionally high-resolution efficacy are less likely to trigger or get involved in task-related conflicts arising from incompatibility of ideas and opinions. On the contrary, people with outstanding resolution efficacy nurture a work environment of cooperation supported by two-way communication. Notably, these employees are confident in their ability to cope with situations of conflicts that may otherwise result in task conflict. It is from this perspective that Bingham and Conner (2015) found that a strong belief in resolution efficacy inclined toward sustaining cohesiveness and a culture of open communication lowered the likelihood of task conflict. Consequently, under the guidance of ethical leadership, employees attain outstanding resolution efficacy, which, in turn, help workers tolerate diverse opinions and ideas from their colleagues and enhance the confidence to solve workplace conflicts. Collectively, these collateral consequences of ethical leadership lead to reduced levels of task conflict.

Resolution Efficacy and Process Conflict

Numerous literature have documented how strong efficacy beliefs improve employee’s ability to manage difficult situations effectively, hence increasing the chances of converging different opinions on how tasks should be processed. About workplace conflict, strong efficacy beliefs in managing conflicts are critical for employees to treat each other with respect and learn from the diverse processes of handling tasks. For instance, employees learn different strategies of distributing responsibilities and roles, hence reducing the likelihood of process conflict. Workers who have strong resolution efficacy communicate more effectively with their colleagues about task processes; mutual respect underpins these communication processes. For instance, the process of distributing roles and responsibilities is not considered as belittling and disrespectful since it allows staff members to contribute to overall organizational goals resulting in lower occurrences of process conflict.

Since efficacy beliefs influence personal choices of goal-oriented activities and emotional responses, workers with high-resolution efficacy should proactively behave in expectation to cope efficiently with others in workplace settings by evading situations where they feel rebuked by assigning roles and ensuring trusts so that tasks can be completed effectively, thus reducing process conflicts. Although there is a scarcity of evidence that shows the direct relationship between resolution efficacy and fewer process conflicts, recent empirical research proves that followers trust and respect companions and leaders who have great resolution efficacy since they appear genuine and are good communicators. Undoubtedly, these qualities reduce the likelihood of process conflict in the workplace.

A longitudinal study, established that when employees felt confident in solving workplace conflicts, they were less inclined to experience other types of disputes. Overall, resolution efficacy acts as a critical motivational and cognitive resource necessary in the attainment of process conflict. As earlier hypothesized, ethical leadership is correlated positively with employee resolution efficacy, and resolution efficacy is correlated to relationship conflict, task conflict, and process conflict negatively. The Social Learning Theory suggests that employee resolution efficacy is the connection factor between Relationship Conflict (RC), Task Conflict (TC), and Process Conflict (PC). According to Bandura and the Social Learning Theory, vicarious learning from ethical leaders results in domain-specific behavior as followers learn since employees’ gain increased efficacy beliefs in that specific domain. Overall, resolution efficacy connects ethical leadership and employee relationship conflict (RC), task conflict (TC), and process conflict (PC).

While relationship and task conflicts were easy to distinguish, process conflict is usually confused with the latter. Jehn (1997) defines process conflict as “disagreement about the assignment of duties and resources” (p. 540). This definition provides two components of a task conflict, or two sub-types of this type of conflict: how a task is to be accomplished, or the task strategy, and who will accomplish a task. Here is the point when confusion with task conflict occurs. However, it can be easily explained. When discussing task conflict, it has been agreed that this term means what decision to make to complete the task effectively. There, the issue was about task strategy as an outcome. On the other hand, task strategy, which is involved in the process conflict is how exactly the task will be completed – what sub-task each member of a group or a team will perform, how the work will be scheduled, etc.

Process conflicts are not rare in working process. Team members, led by the team leader, strive to complete a task not only efficiently but also fast. In this case, process conflicts may occur. Process conflict can also occur if one or more team members do not cope with their responsibilities and cannot complete tasks on time.

Unlike task conflicts, which tend to have a positive impact on the groups’ performance rates, process conflicts have a negative impact. Task conflicts are aimed to find a better solution. On the other hand, process conflicts occur when someone is not good enough to complete a task. In this case, other team members tend to argue on how to complete tasks, especially for those, who are lacking behind. Such type of conflict can become a relationship, as team members may not be satisfied with other members’ work performance rates and make it personal, accusing them in laziness.

Process conflicts do not receive much attention from the researchers (Behfar et al., 2011). This is explained by the fact that task and process conflicts are usually confused. Besides, Behfar et al. (2011) note that process and task conflicts do not have a consistent definition, which becomes an obstacle in researching them. Besides, process conflicts have recently become an arguable issue in HRM. Some researchers, such as Greer et al. (2008), John (1997 or Karn (2008) have found a negative impact of process conflicts on teams’ performance rates, stating that such conflicts influences in lack of creativity within teams, as well as enhance in anger, negative relationships between team members and animosity. On the other hand, such researchers as Jehn and Mannix (2001) Tuckman (1965 and Karn (2008) revealed that process conflicts positively impact the working process, as they help to set priorities, schedule deadlines, clarify roles and improve the resource utilization.

Regardless its impact on the team performance, process conflict needs to be resolved. An ethical leader, striving to resolve the process conflict can implement the strategy of mediation, or compromise. However, in this case, this style of conflict resolution might not work.

When facing the process conflict, a leader needs to understand the source of conflict, where it all has started. As mentioned above, there are two sources of such conflict: dividing tasks and resources and the team’s dissatisfaction with the team’s member work. If the process conflict has been raised around resources and tasks, the ethical leader may use the mediation approach to resolve the conflict. In this case, he or she is required to understand what task each team member is willing to perform. At the same time, the leader needs to possess knowledge what task each team member performs better. Conversations with team members may help find a compromise. However, here, the leader is also to recognize the relationship conflict, which may arise between two or more team members, who want to perform one task.

When the process conflict is raised around a team member’s poor performance, the ethical leader is to observe that such conflict does not transform into relationship one. In this case, it is suggested to use a strategy as in high priority task conflict – which is to resolve the issue the fastest. An ethical team leader is also required to become a role model for such a team member and show him or her how to follow guidelines and stick to the deadlines.


Sample and Procedure

To understand the relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflicts and the mediating role of employee resolution efficacy, the researcher collected data from diverse sources. More specifically, the primary correspondents were employees and direct supervisors working in various companies in New York. The primary tool of data collection was paper surveys. For starters, the researcher invited about 323 participants who were employees with no supervisory roles. The research team identified these participants since they had participated in previous workshop seminars linked to a specific research network. Notably, they received the invitation to contribute via email. The team informed them that the study focused on ethical leadership, teamwork, and well-being. Besides, each of the possible participants has been sent a form of agreement, a form of the anonymity of data received as well as an ethical form, which contained information on ethical and legal issues, presented in the current study. Of the invited members, 260 people agreed to partake in the research. They encompassed different sectors, such as telecommunication, medical, human resource, public service, retail service, technology, manufacturing, and financial sectors. For starters, the team distributed 260 questionnaires to the interested parties. After filling a section of the questionnaire, participants were to request their direct supervisors to fill out a separate survey. Later, they returned the questionnaires to the research team in a sealed envelope. The research team requested employees to register their supervisors to avoid employee-supervisor dyads, such that no two employees shared a common supervisor. The team later sent a separate survey to supervisors to ensure that supervisor-employee dyads were unique. Every participant, employee, and supervisor was to use a unique code to enable the team to match responses.

In line with research ethics, the team included a cover letter that explained the purpose of the study and allowed participants to ascertain their consent. The research team emphasized that participation was voluntary and that responses were anonymous and confidential. To ensure confidentiality of information, the research team included a special address on the envelopes to which participants would send their responses directly to researchers.

While the team sent out 250 employee-supervisor questionnaires, it received responses from 197 employees and 200 supervisors. Notably, the former and latter’s feedback was at 74.8% and 76% respectively. During data analysis, the research team found that some responses were invalid due to incomplete responses or missing information. For instance, some employees sent their survey, but their supervisors did not send or vice versa. Some of the surveys lacked information, such as some questions were unanswered. After the elimination process of invalid data, the team settled for 330 participants; 165 pairs of full and unique employee-supervisor dyads. The final response rate was equal to 66%. Among the employee respondents, 43 percent of them were male with an average age of 37 years old (Standard Deviation=10.7). Notably, most of these male employees had worked in their respective companies for an average of 10.8 years (Standard Deviation=10.3). 76 percent of the correspondents were full-time employees. In light of education level, 4% completed primary school, 23% had reached secondary school, 63% had a bachelor’s degree, and 10% had a master’s degree.

Alongside employees, 65% of the supervisor respondents were male. The average age among them was 45 years old (Standard Deviation=9.73). Markedly, most of them had worked in their respective organizations for an average of 15.9 years (Standard Deviation= 11.1). In light of education level, out of the supervisors, 39% had completed high school, 51% had bachelor’s degree, and 10% had a master’s degree. About 92% worked as full-time supervisors.


The 5-point Likert scale was the primary measurement used in this research. It encompassed marks from 1 to 5 with one being the weakest and five the strongest point. 1 represented sentiments of ‘strongly disagree,’ while 5 represented ‘strongly agree.’

Ethical leadership

Over the years, leadership literature works have held different opinions on the ideal measure of ethical leadership. Although scholars have developed various merits of ethical leadership, most have limitations, which researchers cannot underestimate. Either key questionnaires miss key indicators of ethical leadership or encompass irrelevant information to the study. However, this study ensured that the questionnaire analyzed critical aspects of ethical leadership independent of other types of leadership behavior. It is worth noting that the survey’s questions focused on the relationship between ethical leaders and employees, task performance, and process management (Simons & Peterson, 2000). The study used open closed-ended questionnaires to ease data collection and analysis and, therefore, improve accuracy. The primary measure of ethical leadership in this study was the 10-item scale. In the questionnaires, the employees rated their supervisors on how well they modeled and encouraged appropriate behavior at the workplace. The following are sample questions from the questionnaire regarding measuring ethical leadership.

  1. Your supervisor models good examples on how to adhere to business ethics

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • Your leader communicates business ethics and values with colleagues

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • Leaders consider what is good for every stakeholder here.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • Every person in this organization decides for himself or herself what is wrong or right

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • Leader’s and employees’ major concern is what is best for the other person.
  • Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree
  • My team/ department/ branch leader serves a role model for me

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

Resolution Efficacy

Naturally, most organizations are committed to ensuring that they have favorable environments of managing conflicts. Simply, conflict management is the practice of minimizing the likelihood of conflict to occur and reducing the likelihood of adverse conflict effects while maximizing the positive effects. This study acknowledges that the primary motive of conflict management is to improve learning and group outcomes encompassing individual and organizational well-being. As defined earlier in this study, resolution efficacy entails the personal belief that individuals have in their abilities to resolve conflict situations (Zhang, Zhang, 2012). Notably, employees gain and enhance their resolution efficacy.

The research team distributed questionnaires to employees and supervisor to analyze their levels of resolution efficacy. The following are some of the questions that were in the questionnaire.

  1. I have confidence in my ability to manage workplace conflicts regarding specific tasks.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I can resolve employee conflicts with my work mates

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • My leader has taught me how to avoid unnecessary conflicts and solve workplace conflicts when they arise.

1. Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I am a good listener, and I find it easy to respect and value opinions of others.
  • Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree.
  • I think that conflicts can be resolved without punishing any party of it

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

Relationship Conflict

As the Social Learning Theory suggests, efficacy beliefs play a critical part in achieving desired outcomes. Employee efficacy acts as a motivational and cognitive resource that guides employees into resolving disputes while ensuring healthy relationships with their coworkers. They avoid inappropriate workplace behavior, such as intimidation, gossip, hostility, and raised voices toward their colleagues. Instead, they foster two-way communication, respect, and trust. Collectedly, these factors make employees with resolution efficacy to be less inclined toward relationship conflicts (Rowe, 2007). In this study, the questionnaire included specific questions that measured the quality of relationships that correspondents had with their fellow work mates. The primary assumption was that workers with exceptional resolution efficacy had healthy relationships with their colleagues and are, thus, less likely to engage in relationship conflicts. To avoid biases and inaccuracy, supervisors rather than employees filled in the questions. The following are some of the queries in the questionnaire.

  1. My follower engaged in verbal or/and physical exchanges with others due to personal matters.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • My employees seem not to like some specific co-workers

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • My employee is convinced that there are effective ways of solving personal differences. 1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree
  • My employees listen to others’ ideas and show respect to conduct

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

Task Conflict

In analyzing employee task conflict, this study used the same measure used in relationship conflict. However, the questionnaire was filled by the employees rather than supervisors. Below are few samples of the questions analyzing employees’ risk to task conflicts.

  1. I often disagree with my colleagues on different work matters.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I am not pleased with the current distribution of roles and responsibilities.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I feel that I should be allocated other tasks rather than the one I currently handle.

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I have task-related conflicts with my workmates
  • Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree
  • When the team is stuck on how to solve a problem, I can assist
  • Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree
  • I know what will be better for the team

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

Process Conflict

Process conflict entails the incompatibilities of ideas and opinions on how certain tasks should be handled. Notably, different employees have different views of how certain tasks should be done to increase productivity. This study used

  1. My coworkers and I seem to have different opinions on how to get work done

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • I am not pleased with delegation issues
  • Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

Research Methodology


The research methodology involves a systematic strategy that outlines the mechanisms under which the research would be undertaken including the methodologies in use for the processes. The methods delineate in the methodology delineates the means of data collection and even how some specific results are arrived at during the process of research. However, the methodology does not specifically define the methods even though there is greater attention that is accorded to the nature of processes and procedures to be followed in the attainment of the objective.

The systematic approach involved data collection within the United States. The research involved 323 participants who were interviewed to give their information regarding the relationship between ethical leadership and work conflicts in an organization.

The research involved the use of paper surveys. The participants were to fill in the survey papers and give their information. The participants who couldn’t manage to use the physical forms and papers were sent emails, and they also gave their responses. However, there were responses that were invalid because of errors. There were others also who did not manage to send their responses and therefore they couldn’t be evaluated. The participants involve the supervisors and employees of different organizations.

The research methodology would use questionnaires and the paper surveys in the collection of the data from the participants. The research method also uses the qualitative approach in determining the applicability of the Social Linear Theory in determining the relationship between ethical leadership and work conflict in resolution efficacy of the employees. After collection of data from the fields, the information will be analyzed, discussed and then results together with associated conclusions with regards to the research.

Research Methodology

Research Approaches

This research used the quantitative approach in carrying out its data collection and subsequent analysis. The research also used the questionnaire in the collection of data from the field and the participants. The research also used the survey to get information from the participants.

Quantitative Approach

This approach adopts the use of computational and experimental methods in carrying out data collection. The analysis process and following collection of information follow a rigorous process of observation from the processes of experimentation done on the field. The experimental process involved resultant participants of 330 people, and this included the 165 pairs with unique employee-supervisor dyads. After the whole processes, the final response rate from the participants was 66 percent. The 43 percent of the total number participants composed of males who had an average age of 37 years. This represented a standard deviation of 10.7. This experimental research involved the calculations that demystify the existing relationships between the ethical leadership and workplace conflicts.

Relationship Conflict Process Conflict Task Conflict Workplace Conflict Resolution Efficacy Ethical Leadership Research Design and Structure


Specific Aim
Strategy and Rationale
Experimental Design
Methods, Results, and Analysis
Problems and Alternatives

The research design process involves the identification of the specific aim of the research process well defined under the objectives of the study. The aims reflect the directions the research process will take. The aim also helps the researcher not to go beyond the specific areas of objectives of the study.

The hypothesis then involved the substantive answers including the existences of the relationship between ethical leadership and work conflict. Also, an employee increase in the resolution efficacy represents a reduction in the relationship conflict in the organization. There is also a direct association between resolution efficacy and task conflict (Peterson & Ferrell, 2016). Similarly, their resolution efficacy is inversely proportional to the process conflict. The research process is supposed to study these substantive affirmations and prove them experimentally.

 The research process needs strategy and appropriate rationale for achieving the goals of the research. The strategy involves appropriate planning and execution of duties one after another in accomplishments of the research. There should be strategic data collection, hypothesis, analysis and the other parts of the research in a systematic manner that encompasses all the processes until the conclusion is reached. Similarly, the experimental design encompasses the quantitative approach in the experimentation and testing of the hypothesis through research.

The data is collected using the research methodologies enumerated and then the results form the basis for making the analysis. The analysis then presents to the researcher the conclusions for the process of research and from this make an informed decision on the basic relationship existing between the ethical leadership and workplace conflict.

Reasons for Using Positivism Research

Positivism is a philosophical theory where positive knowledge is based on the use of phenomena in nature with their relations and properties. It is critical since it can be used to measure and uncover behavioral patterns. The positivism theory also produces precise mathematical facts on the subject under investigation. Similarly, the use of positivism also helps in the discovery of effective and causes that determine certain behavior (Treviño, Hartman & Brown, 2000). Additionally, the researchers using this methodology should check their subjective feelings, prejudices or even their values at the beginning point as it can have an impact on the research findings. The impact can be positive at the same, and this would be advantageous for the researcher.

Thesis Module

With regards to the research methodology, this research seeks to determine the relationship between the ethical leadership and work conflict. Within the work conflict the research also focusses on other issues like resolution efficacy, process conflict, task conflict and relationship conflict. The research confines itself to this research module in determining the possibility of conflict within an organization coming from unethical leadership.

Research Questions

This research will find out and determine the following questions:

  • Whether there exists a relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflicts?
  • To determine the role of ethical leadership in increasing employees’ resolution efficacy?
  • To find out the mediating role of employee resolution efficacy?

Research Aim

The purpose of this research is to determine the relationship existing between ethical leadership and conflict at workplaces. The research will also determine the respective association with task conflict, relationship conflict, and process conflict. The research will also investigate the theoretical overarching process in the association between ethical leadership and conflict. The examination of the interactions in the organizations will also determine how the leaders help in alleviating conflicts, disagreements and how the leadership manage the differences and also the cooperation at the places of work.

The introduction of the Social Learning Theory helps in the study of the existing relationship between leadership and conflicts (Kelloway & Day, 2005). The use of this theory also helps to establish a background for the development of a theoretical model for the comprehension of the psychological processes associated with workplaces. The paper finally intends to contribute greatly to the literature already existing by cooperating with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Research Hypothesis

The research hypotheses tests the substantive questions put forth by the researcher. The researcher has determined that there is a directly proportional relationship between ethical leadership and workplace conflict. Also, an increase in employee resolution efficacy has a direct relationship and it reduces the relationship conflict in an organization. There resolution efficacy is associated with task conflict and then the resolution efficacy is inversely proportional to the employee process conflict.


The research also involved the use questionnaires in the collection of information for purposes of analysis, presentation and conclusion. The questionnaire involved questions where the respondents are supposed to tick the answer that applies to them. It was structured on 10 scale measure. The questions were clear and easy for the respondents to find it easy to respond to the answers. The survey processes and the associated questions involved questions that demystify the relationship between ethical leadership and the workplace conflict. The questionnaire also tried to determine how the supervisors tried to model the employees in tolerating one another, appropriate communication, conflict resolution, and appropriate resolutions for the conflicts.

Sample and Procedure

The procedure involved collection of data using the survey done through the use of a questionnaire. The respondents filled the questionnaires and those who did not manage were sent the questionnaires through the emails, and then they returned their responses. The below questions are part of the sample questionnaire.

Some of the questions involve

  1. Your supervisor models good examples on how to adhere to business ethics

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

  • Your leader communicates business ethics and values with colleagues

1.    Strongly disagree 2. Disagree. 3.  Not sure. 4. Agree. 5. Strongly agree

The choice of 1 in the questionnaire represent a strong disagreement with the assertion in the statement above. Similarly, the last digit that is 5 represents a strong agreement with the question the respondents should answer.


The research is on the basis of two variables. These include the ethical leadership verses its effect on the conflicts at workplaces. Other affected variables include process conflicts, relationship conflict, and work conflict. A quantitative process of research methodology was used to in the collection, analysis and design of the research process.

The measurements determine the theoretical framework for the relationship between the ethical leadership and the resultant conflicts that might arise in the workplaces.


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Appendix 1


 Strongly DisagreeDisagreeNot SureAgreeStrongly Agree
Ethical Leadership
Your supervisor models good examples on how to adhere to business ethics       
Your leader communicates business ethics and values with colleagues     
Leaders consider what is good for every stakeholder here.     
Leader’s and employees’ major concern is what is best for the other person     
My team/ department/ branch leader serves a role model for me     
Resolution Efficacy
I have confidence in my ability to manage workplace conflicts regarding specific tasks     
I am able to resolve employee conflicts with my work mates     
My leader has taught me how to avoid unnecessary conflicts and solve workplace conflicts when they arise.     
I am a good listener and I find it easy to respect and value opinions of others.     
I think that conflicts can be resolved without punishing any party of it     
Relationship Conflict
My follower engaged in verbal or/and physical exchanges with others due to personal matters.     
My employees seem not to like some specific co-workers     
My employee is convinced that there are effective ways of solving personal differences     
My employees listen to others’ ideas and show respect in conduct     
Task Conflict
I often disagree with my colleagues on different work matters     
I am not pleased with the current distribution of roles and responsibilities     
I feel that I should be allocated other tasks rather than the one I currently handle     
I have task-related conflicts with my workmates     
When the team is stuck on how to solve a problem, I can assist     
I know what will be better for the team     
Process Conflict
My coworkers and I seem to have different opinions on how to get work done     
I am not pleased with delegation issues