Resolving Conflict in the Chinese and U.S. Realms for Global Business Entities

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This paper investigates the differences between American and Chinese conflict management styles and tries to decode areas of cultural differences that can lead to misunderstanding and conflict. In-depth interviews with foreign-born Chinese searching for jobs at American workplace and case studies with executives at American corporations in China were conducted. From analyzing the roots of Chinese culture, Chinese and American cultural differences, American and Chinese conflict management models, the paper proposes two fundamental differences in negotiation: a four-fold difference between the Chinese and Americans that could potentially cause conflict: directness-subtleness, aggressiveness-modesty, courtesy-command, and American-Chinese experiential differences, as well as a difference in the choice of conflict styles and tactics between Chinese and American negotiators. The case study demonstrated that the Chinese subsidiaries of America-based multinational corporations need to be more sophisticated in handling international business conflicts. The findings indicate that there is a strong relationship between Chinese and American value systems and in the choice of conflict-handling styles. Illustrations of how these parameters play out in the workplace and suggestions for both Americans and Chinese in handling conflicts are provided. Examples of how and where disconnects can occur are reviewed, as well as the hierarchy in which the conflict can occur and the potential impact on individuals and conflict resolution systems.

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