Conflict management style and exhaustion in public accounting

Mary L. Cooper, Margaret E. Knight, Michael Lance Frazier, Daniel W. Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: As exhaustion is a core dimension of job burnout, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that individual perceptions of supervisor conflict management style (collaborative, dominating and avoidant) are antecedents of role stressors (role conflict, role ambiguity and role overload) in public accounting exhaustion. Design/methodology/approach: Survey results from a sample of 208 public accountants from six firms in upstate New York are used to test the conceptual model using regression and mediation techniques. Findings: The findings indicate that perceptions of collaborative and dominating conflict management styles are important antecedents to the role stressors that precede exhaustion in public accounting. The findings also indicate that collaborative and dominating management styles have an indirect effect on exhaustion through both role conflict and role overload. Research limitations/implications: The sample was taken from six accounting firms in one geographic area of the USA and may not be representative of all public accountants. As a result, generalizability may be limited. Theoretical implications include expansion of the existing public accounting exhaustion model to incorporate individual perceptions of conflict management styles as antecedents to role stressors, and consequently to demonstrate the indirect effects of these conflict management styles on exhaustion. Practical implications: This study’s findings provide practitioners with insight regarding conflict management styles, specifically which ones have a positive versus negative effect on role stressors. This can be considered in hiring, training and promotion decisions in firms’ efforts to reduce exhaustion. Originality/value: This augmentation of the existing public accounting exhaustion model is unique, as prior research has not examined individual perceptions of conflict management style. This not only enriches the model but also is actionable by public accounting firms seeking to mitigate exhaustion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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