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Dynamic transformation of communal and exchange schemata in multicultural relationships

Leigh Anne Liu (Robinson College of Business, George State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Chi-Yue Chiu (Faculty of Social Science, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong)
Zhi-Xue Zhang (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing, China)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 20 October 2020

Issue publication date: 29 April 2021




The purpose of this paper is to conceptually distinguish between communal and exchange relationship schemata and analyze their dynamic interactions and transformations in multicultural contexts.


Drawing on theories of social capital, social exchange, networks and relational models, the authors propose a framework to conceptualize how the communal and exchange relationship schemata can be transformed, integrated and multiplied under contextual influences, especially in culturally complex settings faced by multinational organizations.


The authors elucidate the dynamic processes of schemata interactions and transformations in relationship management at interpersonal, interorganizational and national levels in a variety of intercultural contexts, including interactions between monoculturals from different cultures and interplay of cultures within biculturals and among multiculturals. The authors explain how schemata integration and fusion can provide competitive advantages in navigating multicultural relationships.

Research limitations/implications

Systematic qualitative and quantitative studies are recommended to further test and refine the proposed ideas regarding the dynamic interactions and transformations of relationship schemata.

Practical implications

This paper presents implications for individuals, country managers and leaders who need to initiate and maintain relationships with culturally different others. The authors highlight the desirability of being aware of one's own relational schema, understanding others' schema, bridging the two schemata as well as fostering integration and fusion of the schemata.

Social implications

The 2020 global pandemic and various social upheavals around the world highlight the urgency of finding effective mental models to manage relationships. The inclusive and adaptive ways of thinking about relationships can potentially facilitate harmonious connections and conflict resolution.


The authors conceptually disentangle two established relationship schemata and offer a model of their dynamic synergetic transformations.



Funding: This research was partially supported by a grant funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, awarded to Zhi-Xue Zhang (Grant No. 71632002).


Liu, L.A., Chiu, C.-Y. and Zhang, Z.-X. (2021), "Dynamic transformation of communal and exchange schemata in multicultural relationships", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 368-383.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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