The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) was developed as a research tool
by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in the early 1970s. The instrument is
based on theoretical refinements by Kenneth Thomas of a model of management styles
proposed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in the 1960s.
The TKI model is based on a five-category scheme for classifying interpersonal
conflict-handling modes: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating.
Thomas and Kilmann ensured that the TKI statement pairs were evenly matched in terms
of desirability, so that no conflict-handling mode sounded more attractive than
The TKI has been used for more than 35 years and is the leading measure of conflict-handling
behavior. For most of that time the instrument was available only in a self-scorable
paper-and-pencil format, which made administration easy but also made it difficult
to retrieve a large group of client results and conduct analyses on those results.
In 2002, the TKI assessment became available via the Internet using CPP’s online
assessment delivery system, the SkillsOne® Web site. With online administration,
data are collected as part of CPP’s ongoing commercial operations.
Over time these operations created a large archive of completed TKI assessments.
The archive provided a vast pool of participants from which a large representative
norm sample could be developed, making it possible for CPP’s Research Division to
develop updated norms for the instrument to use as the basis for scoring and determining
The renorming project, completed in 2007, is composed of 4,000 men and 4,000 women,
ages 20 through 70, who were employed full-time in the United States at the time
they completed the assessment. Data were drawn from a database of 59,000 cases collected
between 2002 and 2005 and were sampled to ensure representative numbers of people
by organizational level and race/ethnicity.
Today the TKI is available in online and self-scorable formats and is used in
a wide variety of applications, including
• Management and supervisory training
• Negotiation training
• Team building
• Leadership development
• Safety training
For more information on the updated TKI normative sample and implications for
use, read the Technical Brief.