Transforming cross-cultural conflict into collaboration : the integration of western and eastern values

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Journal article

Source Publication

Cross Cultural and Strategic Management

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Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.


Cross-cultural conflict management, Individualism/collectivism, Power distance


Purpose - Scholarly research provides few insights into how integrating the western values of individualism and low power distance with the eastern values of collectivism and high power distance may influence cross-cultural conflict management. Following the framework of the theory of cooperation and competition, the purpose of this paper is to directly examine the impacts of organization-level collectivism and individualism, as well as high and low power distance, to determine the interactive effects of these four factors on cross-cultural conflict management.

Design/methodology/approach - This is a 2 × 2 experiment study. Data were collected from a US laboratory experiment with 80 participants.

Findings - American managers working in a company embracing western low power distance and eastern collectivism values were able to manage conflict cooperatively with their Chinese workers. Moreover, American managers working in a company valuing collectivism developed more trust with Chinese workers, and those in a company culture with high power distance were more interested in their workers' viewpoints and more able to reach integrated solutions.

Originality/value - This study is an interdisciplinary research applying the social psychology field's theory of cooperation and competition to the research on employee-manager, cross-cultural conflict management (which are industrial relations and organizational behavior topics, respectively), with an eye to the role of cultural adaptation. Furthermore, this study included an experiment to directly investigate the interactions between American managers and Chinese workers discussing work distribution conflict in four different organizational cultures.



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Funding Information

This work has been supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. 340111) to the first author. {340111}

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Recommended Citation

Chen, N., Chao, M. C. H., Xie, H., & Tjosvold, D. (2018). Transforming cross-cultural conflict into collaboration: The integration of western and eastern values. Cross Cultural and Strategic Management, 25(1), 70-95. doi: 10.1108/CCSM-10-2016-0187