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Preference for relationship help and emotional help from third parties across cultures: The mediating effects of idiocentric and allocentric orientations

Huadong Yang (Management School and Institute for Risk and Uncertainty, University of Liverpool, UK)
Amna Yousaf (Department of Management and Marketing, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 27 November 2017

Issue publication date: 30 January 2018




In this paper, the authors examine the role of idiocentric and allocentric cultural orientations in employees’ preference for relationship help and for emotional help from third parties in two cross-cultural samples. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the psychological dynamics of cultural dimensions in relation to cross-cultural conflict intervention.


The authors tested the theoretical assumptions by using questionnaire survey in two cross-cultural samples. Study 1 is a cross-cultural comparison within a country, including 83 Dutch employees and 106 Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands. Study 2 is a comparison between countries, including 123 Germany-based German employees and 101 Pakistan-based Pakistani employees.


The results show that employees’ allocentric orientation, but not idiocentric orientation, explains the differences in preference for relationship help in both the within-country comparison (Study 1: individualistic Dutch culture vs collectivistic Turkish culture) and the between-country comparison (Study 2: individualistic German culture vs collectivistic Pakistani culture). However, only in the between-country comparison (Study 2), the findings reveal that the difference in preference for emotional help between individualistic German culture and collectivistic Pakistani culture is mediated by idiocentric orientation (not by allocentric orientation).

Research limitations/implications

The study confirms that the extent to which disputants’ preference for third-party help regarding social and personal aspects does differ across national cultures, and supports that the argument that social relationship is one of the paramount concerns in conflict handling in the collectivistic cultures. In addition, the study signals an alternative way of conducting two culture comparisons and expands our view on the cultural dimension of individualism-collectivism.

Practical implications

The findings have practical implications both for third-party intervention and for managing cultural diversity in the workplace.

Social implications

In general, this study contributes to our understanding on how culture influences conflict handling and provides suggestions for third parties to be culturally adaptive.


The research demonstrates that culture plays an important role in determining the extent to which disputants favour relationship help and emotional help from third parties. The research is also valuable in terms of reliability. The authors tested the hypotheses in two cross-cultural samples both within a country and between countries.



For helpful suggestions and critical comments on draft versions of this paper, the authors thank Evert Van de Vliert, Ellen Giebels, and Peng Wang. The authors also thank Nathalie van Gils and Christine Klamert for data collection.


Yang, H. and Yousaf, A. (2018), "Preference for relationship help and emotional help from third parties across cultures: The mediating effects of idiocentric and allocentric orientations", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 96-118.



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