A meta-analysis and conceptual critique of research on role ambiguity and role conflict in work settings

Susan E. Jackson, Randall S. Schuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1152 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although role ambiguity and role conflict have been studied extensively in the organizational sciences, there remain numerous empirical discrepancies among the reported research results. Consequently, disagreement exists as to what can be concluded about the role ambiguity and role conflict research. Coupled with this empirical impasse has been a persistent and relatively singular approach to conceptually studying role ambiguity and role conflict. In response to this empirical and conceptual situation, a meta-analysis and a conceptual reevaluation of the role ambiguity and role conflict research were performed. Using the Hunter, Schmidt, and Jackson (1982, Meta-analysis: Cumulating research findings across studies, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage) meta-analysis procedures, this study analyzed 29 correlates of role ambiguity and role conflict. These correlates include ten organizational context variables, five individual characteristics, ten affective reactions, and four behavioral reactions. Meta-analysis procedures were used to measure the strength and consistency of the relationship found between each of the 29 correlates and role ambiguity and role conflict. Meta-analysis was also used to determine where moderator variables should play a critical part in future role ambiguity and role conflict research. Based on the results of the meta-analysis, several empirical summaries and conclusions are presented. Along with these, several conceptual observations and reconceptualizing suggestions are offered. It is concluded that while a great deal is known about role ambiguity and role conflict in the organizational sciences much remains to be learned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-78
Number of pages63
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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