Document Type


Publication details

Leung, YF 2010, 'Conflict management and emotional intelligence', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright YF Leung 2010


The objectives of this research are to investigate the reasons for conflicts in the customer service industry, to examine strategies for conflict management which can be used to help resolve these conflicts, to examine the relationship of these strategies with the concept of emotional intelligence, and to improve the quality of customer service provisions in the customer service industry.

The theoretical basis of this study includes reference to the following:

Attribution Theory (Heider, 1958)

Factors of interpersonal attraction and distraction (Deutsch, 1994)

Temperament Theory (McKenna & David, 1997)

Contingency Theory (Burnett, 1998)

The influence of environmental factors (Daniels & Walker, 2001)

Theory of Self‐control (Walsh, 2002) Theory of Causation (Berstene, 2004)

In the area of conflict management, Wall (1995) focuses on the concern for self and for others in five major forms of behaviour: avoiding, dominating, obliging, compromising and integrating. Reuven Bar‐On (1997) analyses a person’s ability and potential to recognise and regulate conflicts.

The relationship between emotional intelligence and conflict formation is said to be affected by factors including attitude (Eugenio, 2003), perception (Berstene, 2004), personality (Ambe, 2004) and past rivalry (Fazzi, 2001). The determinants of the relationship between emotional intelligence and conflict management strategy have been identified as (1) communication and interpersonal relationships (Esin, 1986), (2) concern for self (Frak, 2005), (3) concern for others (Gourley, 2005) and (4) transformation and reinterpretation of the conflict situation (Kane, 2004).

Grounded Theory has been adopted in this research (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Qualitative interviews were used to collect data on conflict formation and management strategy. Tests to measure the emotional intelligence quotient (also called the emotional quotient) of participants were also conducted and demographic data of the participants was gathered.

Customer service staff are suggested to identify the real needs of customers through the use of the concepts of emotional intelligence and conflict formation. Customer service staff should apply the appropriate conflict management strategy with due regard to the impact of emotional intelligence so as to resolve conflicts or be aware of situations of potential conflict.

There are three factors that can contribute to preventing or minimising conflict: (1) high staff emotional intelligence, (2) staff concern for others and (3) customer concern for others. This study suggests that as long as at least two of these factors are present concurrently, conflicts can be avoided or resolved soon after their formation.

Included in

Business Commons