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Negotiation: the Chinese style

Tony Fang (School of Business, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 1 January 2006



To examine the nature of Chinese business negotiating style in Sino‐Western business negotiations in business‐to‐business markets involving large industrial projects from a social cultural point of view.


A conceptual approach developed from personal interviews.


This study reveals that the Chinese negotiator does not possess an absolute negotiating style but rather embraces a mixture of different roles together: “Maoist bureaucrat in learning”, “Confucian gentleman”, and “Sun Tzu‐like strategist”. The Chinese negotiating strategy is essentially a combination of cooperation and competition (termed as the “coop‐comp” negotiation strategy in this study). Trust is the ultimate indicator of Chinese negotiating propensities and role choices.

Research limitations/implications

The focus of this study is on Chinese negotiating style shown in large B2B negotiations with Chinese SOEs.


Differing from most other studies on Chinese negotiating style which tend to depict the Chinese negotiator as either sincere or deceptive, this study points out that there exists an intrinsic paradox in Chinese negotiating style which reflects the Yin Yang thinking. The Chinese negotiator has a cultural capacity to negotiate both sincerely and deceptively and he/she changes coping strategies according to situation and context, all depending on the level of trust between negotiating partners.



Fang, T. (2006), "Negotiation: the Chinese style", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 50-60.



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