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

Nancy CHEN*, Mike Chen-ho CHAO, Henry XIE, Dean TJOSVOLD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-95
Number of pages26
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

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


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


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