Talk:Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

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To the author/creator of the page: Kilmann Thomas Conflict Mode Instrument:

I am Ralph Kilmann, one of the co-developers of the TKI. I recently established an account with Wiki, so I could address what I felt was a major oversight of discussions on assessing conflict-handling behavior. At the same time, I wanted to update the TKI page to include the latest developments with the instrument. But I was totally unaware of Wiki's policies on "conflict of interest," especially since I have heard many concerns about a "lack of standards" on Wiki in general. Well, I am now informed! Please accept my apologies for causing "conflict of interest" concerns on your page.

Here are the issues I wanted to address. You can decide whether they warrant any attention or revision:

1) To me, the really key challenge in measuring conflict modes (and virtually all other self-report instruments) is to minimize the classic social desirability response bias. With my co-author, Ken Thomas, we discovered that more than 90% of a person's responses to the available conflict instruments (in the 1960s and 1970s) were do to this powerful bias. Thus people's supposed choices of conflict modes on any inventory were NOT based on their conflict behavior, but how they wanted to appear to themselves and others (collaborating sounded good, more socially desirable; while avoiding sounded negative or less desirable). Here are several research articles in top academic journals that address these issues specifically:

Thomas, K. W., and Kilmann, R. H. "The Social Desirability Variable in Organizational Research: An Alternative Explanation for Reported Findings," Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 18, No. 4 (1975), 471-482.

Kilmann, R. H., and Thomas, K. W. "Developing a Forced-Choice Measure of Conflict-Handling Behavior: The MODE Instrument," Educational and Psychological Measurement, Vol. 37, No. 2 (1977), 309-325.

Thomas, K. W., and Kilmann, R. H. "Comparison of Four Instruments Measuring Conflict Behavior," Psychological Reports, Vol. 42, No. 3 (1978), 1139-1145.

Since the TKI purposely reduces the social desirability response bias from over 90% (on the other three conflict inventories at the time) to less than 20%, the TKI has a much better chance of actually assessing conflict behavior than how people want to appear to themselves or others.

Note: The way we addressed the social desirability bias involved pairing items (A/B choices) that were equal in social desirability. As a result, people have to choose one of the pairs (say a collaborating item) versus the second pair (say an avoiding item) based on the CONTENT of the item alone, since each item in the pair has been matched on social desirability (via numerous research studies). So when some people complain about the "cumbersome nature" of the forced-choice format, part of that complaint (or most of that complaint) is because they can't select one of the items to look good.

Conveniently, the forced-choice format also ensures that we are measuring the relative frequency of using five different modes, which is the clearly stated goal of the TKI assessment. Other conflict surveys that avoid the forced-choice format to make it easier for respondents not only ignore the huge social desirability bias, but also are, in reality, measuring perceptions of the TOTAL conflict in the situation, not their relative frequency of conflict behavior. Typically, a person can only use one onflict mode at a time; the more he uses collaborating, for example, the less he can use other modes. Other conflict inventories are, in fact, measuring something else if they don't provide some form of ipsative measurement (by forced-choice or a ranking ordering of items).

2) The TKI is now available in more languages than was reported on the page: It is now available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, and Chinese (traditional and simplified). It has now sold, according to CPP, the publisher, more than 6,000,000 copies. And the publisher since 1999 is now CPP, Inc, of Mountain View, California, no longer Xicom in New York. Xicom, in essence, no longer exists.

3) I suppose this next item scores highest on conflict of interest. But the fact remains that there have not been any training programs by either Xicom in the past or CPP in the present to help trainers and consultants properly use and interpret the TKI. Most people have had no option but to rely on the 16-page TKI booklet to determine how to use and interpret the results. Although CPP has numerous training programs for all its other major assessments (the MBTI, the FIRO-B, the Strong, etc.), that is not the case for the TKI. So if people want to gain a deeper understanding for using the TKI, an advanced training program is now available. True, I am the one who is now delivering an online course, Advanced Training in Conflict Management, with my son, Chris. And any co-developer of the instrument is probably well equipped to teach people all the nuances in making use of his own instrument. But I now realize that coming from me, this clearly represents a conflict of interest. Agreed! And citing my new Website,, which is entirely focused on the TKI and conflict management, also represented a conflict of interest. Agreed!

I hope the author of the TKI page will, in one way or another, address the social desirability bias that the TKI explicitly addresses, since it is the primary reason that we developed an additional conflict inventory when three previous ones already existed: the Blake and Mouton (1964), the Lawrence and Lorsch (1967), and the Hall (1969). And any discussion and critique of the forced-choice format (of A/B paired items) would hopefully take into account whether the assessment is intending to measure relative frequency of using a mode or...some absolute amount of conflict (and thus assuming that people can actually use all modes to the same frequency at the same time).

Thank you so much for bringing the Wiki policies to my attention. They make perfect sense and I have revised my view of Wiki's standards, which has now been changed by my recent, personal experience. I hope you accept my apologies.

Sincerely, Ralph Kilmann

Help with revisionEdit

I did not create this page but as someone who is familiar with this tool -- I have used it in my work -- and someone who is not affiliated with Thomas and Kilmann perhaps I can help to improve it. Is someone already working on this? Does anybody object if I try to improve it? Andrew Hennigan (talk) 15:17, 30 September 2012 (UTC)[]

I don't think anyone would object to an honest attempt to improve the article. The main thing is to provide verifiable sources for any claims made. A problem with the current article is that it has only one reference. If you know of additional references incorporating them would be helpful. --Smcg8374 (talk) 01:12, 1 October 2012 (UTC)[]
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