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Social rewards: the basis for collaboration in honor cultures

Jimena Yolanda Ramirez-Marin (IÉSEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS 9221), Lille, France)
Saïd Shafa (Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 19 January 2018

Issue publication date: 30 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to define social rewards, as acts and expressions which specifically signal respect, courtesy and benevolence to the other party, based on cultural scripts found in honor cultures. Second, to explore whether social rewards mitigate competitive aspirations and foster collaboration in competitive settings, with honor values being a culturally relevant mechanism for this effect.


This paper reports on two experiments assessing high-honor and low-honor culture participants’ aspirations and behavioral decisions. In study 1, participants described a personal situation where they were praised by close others (social reward) or praised themselves (control condition), before responding to a buyer/seller negotiation scenario. In study 2, participants were either complimented (social reward) or not complimented (control condition), before engaging in live competition with a confederate for monetary outcomes.


Both studies indicate that social rewards diminish competitive aspirations and offers among high-honor culture participants, but not among low-honor culture participants. Results of study 1 indicate that endorsement of honor values mediates this effect. In conclusion, social rewards can improve interactions with members of honor cultures.

Research limitations/implications

These studies advance our understanding of cultural differences in negotiations and provide insight into social rewards as one of the mechanisms necessary to successfully manage intercultural negotiations and collaboration. Future research should address the effect of social rewards on self-worth and empowerment.


This research is the first to shed light on the relevance and importance of social rewards as a device to facilitate social interactions in honor cultures.



Ramirez-Marin, J.Y. and Shafa, S. (2018), "Social rewards: the basis for collaboration in honor cultures", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 53-69.



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