Reaping the benefits of task conflict in teams: the critical role of team psychological safety climate

J Appl Psychol. 2012 Jan;97(1):151-8. doi: 10.1037/a0024200. Epub 2011 Jul 4.


Past research suggests that task conflict may improve team performance under certain conditions; however, we know little about these specific conditions. On the basis of prior theory and research on conflict in teams, we argue that a climate of psychological safety is one specific context under which task conflict will improve team performance. Using evidence from 117 project teams, the present research found that psychological safety climate moderates the relationship between task conflict and performance. Specifically, task conflict and team performance were positively associated under conditions of high psychological safety. The results support the conclusion that psychological safety facilitates the performance benefits of task conflict in teams. Theoretical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Peer Group*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Young Adult