This study explores how task conflict can support creative problem solving in teams and the cognitive processes applied. As multidisciplinary teams can be diverse in nature, they may not always partake competently in the pooling of information, and as a result task conflict may arise due to differences in mental models. Under certain conditions task conflict is considered to be beneficial to creative problem solving because it stimulates knowledge exchange and integration and constructive criticism to reach co-created decisions and solutions. Four case studies were conducted to analyse the discourse of teams carrying out design and innovation projects. Task conflict was found to have a positive impact on creative problem solving in the application of four cognitive processes: knowledge processing, critical and creative thinking and metacognition (team self-reflection). Task conflict was positively related to creativity in the proposal of solution alternatives. The successful application of the cognitive processes was dependent on an awareness of when task conflict is appropriate and high level social skills. The findings have implications for managers of teams solving complex problems. They highlight how the cognitive processes can be constructively used to stimulate and manage conflict to effectively solve problems in teams.
Part of the book: Organizational Conflict