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Examining conflict‐handling approaches by Chinese top management teams in IT firms

Ping Ping Fu (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Xue Huang Yan (Nankai University, Tianjin, China)
Yongjuan Li (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Erping Wang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Siqing Peng (Peking University, Beijing, China)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore answers to two research questions: what types of conflicts do top management team (TMT) members in Chinese firms deal with; and what approaches do they take to handle them?


Interview data were collected from 52 TMT members in 16 Chinese entrepreneurial high tech firms, and were transcribed, coded and analyzed according to Thomas's typology of conflict handling approaches.


Results show that conflicts in those TMTs were mostly task‐related and integration/ collaboration was the most frequently used approach to handle conflicts, in contrast to the findings of previous studies with Chinese managers that reported avoidance to be most preferred. It was found that the most preferred approach used in the team also relates to the leadership style of the team leader.

Research limitations/implications

Methodologically, the paper did not apply any quantitative approach to triangulate the findings for greater reliability nor did it propose predictors of any type of conflict‐handling approach. Also, analyses were done at the individual level. However, the results add to the conflict‐resolution literature, and provide insights on conflict resolution processes in Chinese TMTs, which, in turn, will help to understand better Chinese TMT processes.

Practical implications

The results provide very practical guidance to TMTs and help generalize the theories that have been developed based on Western practices.


The study is first of its kind to examine conflict type and conflict handling approaches; and in Chinese high tech firms. It offers some interesting insights to the topic.



Ping Fu, P., Huang Yan, X., Li, Y., Wang, E. and Peng, S. (2008), "Examining conflict‐handling approaches by Chinese top management teams in IT firms", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 188-209.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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