Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)



First Advisor

Professor Dean Tjosvold


Chinese people have been theorized to be particularly sensitive to social face and avoid direct discussion in conflict to promote interpersonal harmony. This study uses the theory of social face to predict Chinese employees’ strategies to avoid expressing anger with their supervisors in the organizations. Inspired by previous research, this study proposes that anger-expression avoidance is a complex behavior with different motivations and actions, leading to diverse outcomes. It identifies four strategies for the employees to avoid expressing anger with their boss; they are named outflanking (turn to the third party to resolve the anger), withdrawal (staying cool, ignoring, giving the silent treatment), retaliation (covert, indirect revenge, in an attempt to get even or to balance the apparently inequitable situation) and re-channeling (expressing anger on persons or things unrelated to the source of the anger). The results from an interview study conducted in the summer of 2008 can help explain the dynamic structure of anger-expressing avoidance: Why employees in organizations in China avoid expressing anger, how they act, and the consequences. Based on the data collection and analysis, this study has implications both for the general theory of social face and conflict management in China as well as the understanding of how anger-expression avoidance strategies affect organizational relationships and employee future productivity, job satisfaction, and stress.


anger, avoidance, social face, organization, China

Recommended Citation

Han, X. (2009). Anger-expression avoidance in organizations in China: The role of social face (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

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