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Can interpersonal competition be constructive within organizations?
The Journal of Psychology : Interdisciplinary and Applied
  • Dean William TJOSVOLD, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • David W. JOHNSON, University of Minnesota, United States
  • Roger T. JOHNSON, University of Minnesota, United States
  • Haifa SUN, South China Normal University, China
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date
  • Competition,
  • Constructive competition,
  • Cooperation,
  • Social interdependence

An empirical analysis was conducted on the conditions under which competition can be constructive. The participants were 64 managers and 28 employees from organizations in mainland China. They were asked to describe specific incidents of competition between them and their fellow employees and rate on a 7-point Likert-type scale the conditions that they perceived affected the outcomes. The incidents could involve either a physical activity or an intellectual task or both. Results showed that the variables related to constructive competition included the fairness of the rules, the motivation to win, having an advantage that enhanced one's chances of winning, a strong positive relationship among competitors, and a history of confirming each other's competence. By controlling these factors, the constructiveness of competition may be enhanced.

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Citation Information
Tjosvold, D., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T., & Sun, H. (2003). Can interpersonal competition be constructive within organizations? Journal of Psychology, 137(1), 63-84. doi: 10.1080/00223980309600600