Faultline Deactivation: Dealing with Activated Faultlines and Conflicts in Global Teams

  • Martijn van der KampEmail author
  • Brian V. Tjemkes
  • Karen A. Jehn


Many organizations rely on teams made up of people of different nationalities, so-called global teams. While recent studies have identified that the outcomes of global teams are often hampered by team conflicts, few effective ways to prevent conflicts have been proposed. One of the main causes of conflicts in global teams are team faultlines, which are hypothetical dividing lines that can split a team into subgroups based on the team members’ demographic alignment along multiple characteristics. The model proposed herein builds on the notion that it is possible to prevent conflicts resulting from team faultlines. We explain how the notion of faultline deactivation—that is, the process of minimizing the salience of faultlines in teams—is crucial for preventing conflict in global teams. We develop a typology of faultline deactivators and explain the crucial roles that diversity training, superordinate team identity, direct channels for knowledge sharing, task reflexivity, centralized leadership, and collective trust play in deactivating faultlines and preventing conflicts in global teams. We provide extensive guidance on how to prepare for and implement these faultline deactivators in the managerial reality of global teams and discuss the implications of the model for future research.


Team conflict Team faultlines Global teams Faultline deactivation Faultline deactivators Subgroups Preparation Implementation Managerial implications 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martijn van der Kamp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian V. Tjemkes
    • 2
  • Karen A. Jehn
    • 1
  1. 1.Melbourne Business SchoolCarltonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Management and OrganizationVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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