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Understanding Cross-cultural Management

CHAPTER 17 CONFLICTS AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES


Concept 17.1: Understanding & dealing with conflicts

Slide 17.1

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

The nature of conflict


A conflict appears when people with differing needs or goals are prevented or perceive that they are being prevented by others in achieving these needs or goals Realistic Group Conflict theory: source of intergroup conflict is struggle over (limited) structural resources, not personal characteristics. Labor, land, oil, food (social psychology theory) Social identity theory: conflict between groups is seen to be the result of perceived identities. Being different to another-in group vs out group behaviour
Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Slide 17.2

The nature of conflict (2)

Slide 17.3

Ting-Toomey (cross-cultural) conflict involves: (cultural) groups protecting their own self-image. Hutterites intercultural perceptions coloured by ethnocentrism and stereotypes. Own culture centeredness Do as the Romans!! Uses concept of self-construal- how people perceive themselves

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

The nature of conflict (3)

Ting-Toomey distinguishes between


Those with an independent sense of self welcome communication in the conflict process, if both parties are open: this may bring tangible, creative solutions

(Western)
Those with an interdependent sense of self see conflict as negative and unproductive: a conflict process is only satisfactory if the faces of both parties have been saved in addition to a productive agreement (East Asia)

Independent self-concepts found more often in individualistic cultures; interdependent selfconcepts more prevalent in collectivistic cultures
Slide 17.4

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Conflict styles: dual concern models


Conflict style: patterned responses or clusters of behavior that people use in conflict Dual concern model by Blake and Mouton based on two dimensions: concern for production and concern for people Thomas and Kilman model (1974): based on two factors in a persons conflict style:
assertiveness: the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns cooperativeness: the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the other persons concerns
Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Slide 17.5

Conflict handling modes


H I G COMPETING H

COLLABORATING

COMPROMISING AVOIDING
L O W LOW concern for other CO-OPERATIVENESS HIGH

ASSERTIVE NESS concern for self

ACCOMMODATING

Figure 17.1 Two-dimensional taxonomy of conflict handling modes


Source: Thomas & Kilman (1974), p. 11 (adapted) Slide 17.6 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Criticism of such dual concern models


Can such a dual concern model handle the increasing complexity of modern-day disputes? Room for manoeuvre is limited (legislation and financial restrictions) Communication during conflict is not always direct, so face-to-face resolution not possible Such a model is focused solely on outcome of the conflict, either in terms of concern for self or concern for the other.

Slide 17.7

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Relationship, not just goal?

Leung, K. et al. (2002) propose the introduction of harmony into the model: concerns itself with the relationship between the self and the other Harmony: focus on using a conflict-free relationship to achieve a goal NB: conflict avoidance can cause equal harm in a more subtle manner: replacing genuine problem- solving with superficial harmony
Slide 17.8

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Culture, emotions and conflict


Kumar distinguishes between: Ego-focused emotions such as anger, pride and guilt, linked to the (non-)fulfilment of individual goals Other-focused emotions such as shame, anxiety and fear, related to the (in-) ability to show oneself as belonging to the social context In negotiation conflict:
those with negative ego-focused feelings will put pressure on their opponents to make concessions those experiencing other-focused may adjust their expectations to get an agreement

Slide 17.9

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Culture, emotions and conflict (2)


The extra dynamics arising during an encounter between disputants from different cultures those from individualistic cultures more ready to overcome an impasse negotiators from collectivist cultures more likely to share the same perception of a given event and will:
find it difficult to suggest a way round an obstacle may not openly make emotional individual responses may attempt to restore personal composure and thus harmony.
Slide 17.10 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Culture, emotions and conflict (3)


What if conflict occurs between people from individualistic and collectivistic cultures?
Emotions could drive them even further apart, with one side attempting to force a resolution and the other withdrawing from any interaction. Ting-Toomey et al. (2000) advocate the inclusion of emotional expression in ThomasKilmans model to account for the many subtleties in conflict management.

Slide 17.11

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Intercultural approach to conflict


Dominating

S E L F F A C E

H I G H

Neglect (Passive Aggressive)

Integrating

Emotional Expression

C O N C E R N

L O W

Third-Party Help

Compromisin g

Avoiding

Obliging

LOW OTHER FACE CONCERN

HIGH

Figure 17.2

An Eight-Style Conflict Grid: An Intercultural Approach


Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Source: Ting-Toomey & Oetzel (2002), p.160 Slide 17.12

Management of conflict
The way conflicts are addressed can vary considerably from culture to culture. These differences relate to: the degree to which disagreement is acceptable and therefore the extent to which conflict is tolerated the strategies to be adopted when dealing with conflicts the moment when the manager needs to intervene and the way he intervenes

Slide 17.13

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Mindfulness
Ting-Toomey (1999) suggests that skills to do with mindfulness can enhance conflict management: mindful reframing
translate (non-) verbal messages from the context of the others cultural viewpoint re-set priorities after mindfully observing and listening to the viewpoints and expectations of their opponents

collaborative dialogue
grasp the cultural and personal elements involved get the others to talk about expectations, face issues
Slide 17.14 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Managing conflict in Malaysia


Core values: durability of personal relations, even if a strong divergence of opinion results in conflict concern for face : across all ethnic groups. concern for others: generosity, respect, honesty and sincerity, being upright and caring. respect for seniority: in some conflicts a third person, a neutral senior clarifies key issues. subordinates will never confront their superior, rather they will be unco-operative and eventually resign themselves to the way their boss behaves.
Slide 17.15 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Managing conflict in Thailand


The name Thailand The Land of Smiles - reflects the social harmony in this country. A Thai smiles in pleasant and stress-filled situations. Smile hides feelings in public: self-discipline to maintain status, prestige and face: concept of jai yen (cool heart) derived from Buddhism Individualism quite predominant, but Thais are more relationship-oriented than results-oriented Conflict is rarely regarded as either positive or negative: if a conflict arises, a third party (traditionally a respected elder) is called upon to mediate
Slide 17.16 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Managing conflict in (South) Korea


Korea, reflects in a way the differences and similarities between western and eastern attitudes to conflict Koreans prefer a non-competitive (or nondominating) strategy in face-to-face conflict situation Prefer to use a superior or authoritarian personality to resolve conflict Differentiate between in-group and out-group situations: when dealing with out-groups, strategy is comparable to Western competitive approach

Slide 17.17

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Mediation and conflict transformation


In Asia Pacific: the mediator deals with concerns of group as a whole; legitimacy rests on
their social status within the group their knowledge of traditions, personal characteristics.

In West: the mediators task is tightly focused: authority defined more in terms of their expertise and experience The mediator can:
reframe the content and process issues of both parties transform the whole conflict in terms of the attitudes and behaviour of those involved
Slide 17.18 Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Conflict transformation (1)


This idea of conflict transformation involves:
first transforming attitudes, then transforming behaviour then transforming the actual conflict in question by pinpointing incompatibilities and removing them transformations at personal, social and structural level a radical process which changes the whole nature of the relationship between warring parties

Slide 17.19

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Conflict transformation (2)


Mediation can be an instrument of transformation But third-party intervention is not necessary if the parties involved are:
prepared to perceive the conflict process in terms of their own assumptions, AND perceive the process in terms of those with whom they are in contention

Slide 17.20

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009

Conclusion
Conflict style related to
Concern for self Concern for others

Mediation and/or collaborative dialogue can promote conflict resolution Cultural transformation of personal, social and structural factors can promote conflict resolution further

Slide 17.21

Browaeys and Price, Understanding Cross-cultural Management, 1st Edition, Pearson Education Limited 2009