Chinese Conflict Management Styles and Negotiation

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Cultural Perspectives

CCM

International Journal of

2007 Vol 7(1): 101–119

Cross Cultural Management

Chinese Conflict Management Styles and Negotiation Behaviours An Empirical Test

Zhenzhong Ma
University of Windsor, Canada
ABSTRACT

China has been one of the most important markets for western firms, but negotiating with the Chinese is quite a challenging task. Researchers have been investigating the distinctness in Chinese negotiation and conflict management styles, but have yet to provide solid evidence for it. An attempt is made in this study to illustrate how Chinese people approach conflicts, and thus how this affects their negotiation behaviours during business negotiation, which provides an empirical test of Chinese conflict management styles and their impact on negotiation outcomes. Results show that compromising and avoiding are the most preferred methods of conflict management in China, while accommodating and competing lead to more satisfaction during business negotiation. Managerial implications and future studies are then discussed.

KEY WORDS • avoiding • Chinese culture • compromising • conflict management styles • negotiation behaviours

Conflict management has developed into a major field of organizational behaviour (Kozan, 1997). This trend underlines the greater acceptance of conflict as an organizational phenomenon and the concerns over its management. The growing complexities of work relationships and the rise of new organizational forms place unprecedented pressure on managers to become more effective in conflict management. Scholars and practitioners have been attempting to identify the

mechanism that can improve conflict management skills. Researchers have also witnessed an increased interest in management in a cross cultural context (see Adler and Graham, 1989), yet the existing literature on cross cultural research is not as rich in conflict management as in other fields (Kiggundu et al., 1983; Kozan, 1997). A better understanding of conflict management across cultures is thus needed when the comparative and interactive aspects of conflict Copyright © 2007 SAGE Publications www.sagepublications.com DOI: 10.1177/1470595807075177

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International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 7(1)

management across cultures become more important in an increasingly globalized work environment. A number of studies have been conducted to explore the differences in conflict management across cultures (e.g. Jehn and Weldon, 1992; Kozan, 1997; Sorenson et al., 1999). However, even though these studies have produced an impressive array of literature on the best way to manage conflict, there are some deficiencies in the current research on conflict management, and these deficiencies have impeded further development in cross cultural conflict management studies. The first deficiency of existing research on conflict management is the lack of integrative international studies (Kozan, 1997). The majority of the conflict management studies focus on investigation of samples from western cultures; few studies have gone beyond to explore conflict management styles in a non-western culture (see Weldon and Jehn, 1995 for a review). Since conflict is a culturally defined event (Hocker and Wilmot, 1991), the management of conflict should differ across cultures. International studies of conflict management with samples from non-western cultures are thus necessary in order to provide more useful information on conflict management for the globalized working environment. In addition, studying conflict in a variety of cultural contexts can also challenge and refine the understanding of conflict management. Incorporating ideas and practices of other cultures with regard to conflict management can help develop more enduring, elegant, and universal theories (Tjosvold and Leung, 2000; van de Vijver and Leung, 1997), which is an important step for theory development in the conflict management area....
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