Edited By Michael B. Hinner
A Study on Chinese-American Cultural Differences in Interpersonal Conflict Management
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Introduction to A Study on Chinese American Cultural Differences in Interpersonal Conflict Management
By Paul S. N. Lee
Paul S. N. Lee points out that most studies of Chinese American cultural differences, or for that matter any other cross-cultural variable, in managing interpersonal conflict are based on Hall’s high-low context and/or Hofstede’s individualism vs. collectivism and power distance dimensions. The Thomas-Kilman scale measuring concern for others vs. concern for self is also often used to identify strategies for managing interpersonal conflicts especially in a business context.
It seems that people seem to handle conflicts in different ways. In high context cultures, people are said to emphasize the maintenance of interpersonal relations and to be more likely to avoid conflicts while at the same time being more inclined to reconcile with the contending party than is the case in low context cultures. Living in elaborate social hierarchies, it is said that subordinates in high context cultures tend to accept their superiors’ directives and advice more often than people living in less hierarchical orders. In contrast, people in low context cultures live in a more egalitarian social structure and feel less constrained to express themselves while tending to resolve conflicts through open discussion rather than avoidance or by complying with directives given by superiors or authority figures. The USA is assumed to be a low context culture, egalitarian, and individualistic while China is said to be high context, hierarchical and collectivistic. Americans are,...
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