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Transforming cross-cultural conflict into collaboration: The integration of western and eastern values

Nancy Chen (Department of Management, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Mike Chen-ho Chao (Department of Marketing and Management Sciences, Cotsakos College of Business, William Paterson University of New Jersey, Wayne, New Jersey, USA)
Henry Xie (Department of Management and Marketing, School of Business, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Dean Tjosvold (Research Center for Innovation and Strategic Human Resource Management, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang, China)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 21 December 2017

Issue publication date: 30 January 2018




Scholarly research provides few insights into how integrating the western values of individualism and low power distance with the eastern values of collectivism and high power distance may influence cross-cultural conflict management. Following the framework of the theory of cooperation and competition, the purpose of this paper is to directly examine the impacts of organization-level collectivism and individualism, as well as high and low power distance, to determine the interactive effects of these four factors on cross-cultural conflict management.


This is a 2×2 experiment study. Data were collected from a US laboratory experiment with 80 participants.


American managers working in a company embracing western low power distance and eastern collectivism values were able to manage conflict cooperatively with their Chinese workers. Moreover, American managers working in a company valuing collectivism developed more trust with Chinese workers, and those in a company culture with high power distance were more interested in their workers’ viewpoints and more able to reach integrated solutions.


This study is an interdisciplinary research applying the social psychology field’s theory of cooperation and competition to the research on employee-manager, cross-cultural conflict management (which are industrial relations and organizational behavior topics, respectively), with an eye to the role of cultural adaptation. Furthermore, this study included an experiment to directly investigate the interactions between American managers and Chinese workers discussing work distribution conflict in four different organizational cultures.



This work has been supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. 340111) to the first author.


Chen, N., Chao, M.C.-h., Xie, H. and Tjosvold, D. (2018), "Transforming cross-cultural conflict into collaboration: The integration of western and eastern values", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 70-95.



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