A Cultural Lens On Interpersonal Conflict And Creativity

Topics: Culture, Psychology, Conflict Pages: 16 (16381 words) Published: April 20, 2015
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
2014, Vol. 8, No. 2, 237–252

© 2014 American Psychological Association
1931-3896/14/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0035927

This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.

A Cultural Lens on Interpersonal Conflict and Creativity in
Multicultural Environments

Susannah B. F. Paletz

Ella Miron-Spektor

University of Maryland

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Chun-Chi Lin
National Taiwan University
The literature on the effects of cultural diversity on conflict and team performance has been dominated by the information processing and social categorization theories. This article adds to the existing literature by adopting a dynamic constructivist approach detailing the effects of interpersonal conflict on cognition in multicultural environments. The fulcrum of this model is whether the conflict is interpreted as a threat. We describe the relationships between multicultural environments and perceived conflict; perceived conflict and the perception of threat; and the perception of threat on individual creativity via prevention or promotion orientations. Drawing from the dynamic constructivist approach to culture, this model highlights how culture, as shared mental models and shared meanings, may moderate these relationships. Cultural meanings may influence whether a situation is perceived as a conflict, whether conflict is interpreted as a threat, and individuals’ tolerance for conflict. This model points out how culture may be used to impact the relationship between multicultural environments and creativity. Keywords: culture, creativity, diversity, group processes, conflict

2012). Adding that to existing ethnic, geographic, religious, class, and other subculture differences within many countries, and work life and other public activities have quietly become multicultural. The opportunities and challenges of increasing multiculturalism have captured the attention of businesspeople, policymakers, and academics.

Although the challenges of multiculturalism are being addressed practically, research and theory on these issues have also grown. Over the past 20 years, research on workplace demography, including demographic and cultural value diversity, has multiplied, revealing mixed and complex findings for the effects of diversity on team performance, creativity, and conflict (e.g., Chatman, Polzer, Barsade, & Neale, 1998; Earley & Mosakowski, 2000; Goncalo & Staw, 2006; Joshi & Roh, 2009; Joshi, Liao, & Roh, 2011; Paletz, Peng, Erez, & Maslach, 2004; Stahl, Maznevski, Voigt, & Jonsen, 2010). Multicultural experiences and interactions may increase individuals’ creativity (e.g., A. K.-Y. Leung & Chiu, 2010; A.K.-Y. Leung, Maddux, Galinsky, & Chiu, 2008; Maddux, Adam, & Galinsky, 2010; Maddux & Galinsky, 2009), but multicultural settings are more likely to increase interpersonal conflict (Ayub & Jehn, 2010; Stahl et al., 2010).

Despite its importance to growing workplace diversity, research on conflict and creativity in multicultural environments is scarce, with many researchers pointing out gaps in our knowledge in the broader domains of culture and creativity (e.g., Paletz & Peng, 2008; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004; Zhou & Su, 2010). Indeed, existing research on the effect of conflict on individual creativity has yielded inconsistent findings. On the one hand, conflict in-

To compete in the global market, address a growing need for
innovation and creativity, and solve worldwide problems, many organizations are increasingly becoming international, integrating diverse knowledge and a multicultural workforce (e.g., Kidwell & Langholtz, 1998). This growing trend has given rise to multicultural environments, which occur when individuals from multiple cultures interact. In...

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