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Face-saving tactics as an aid to construction negotiation in Hong Kong

Tak Wing Yiu (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Yuet Nog Chung (Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 17 November 2014




In construction, the involvement of complex human interactions and incompatible interests among negotiating parties would pose as an obstacle in any negotiation process. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of face in governing the behaviour of negotiating parties.


This paper identified the generic types of face-saving tactics used by construction negotiators, investigated the tactic-outcome relationships and examined the effects of face-inducement factors on these relationships with the use of moderated multiple regression (MMR).


A taxonomy of face-saving tactics has been developed by employing the technique of principal component of factor analysis. The results suggest that the use of face-saving tactics in construction negotiation would statistically result in an achievement of mutual agreement, maintenance of harmony and avoidance of offending situations. The MMR models finally affirm that some tactic-outcome relationships would significantly depend on the face-inducement factors.

Research limitations/implications

This research highlights the usefulness of face-saving tactics in construction negotiation.

Practical implications

The findings revealed that these tactics can help facilitate the achievement of mutual agreement, maintain harmony and avoid offending situations. In this connection, an awareness of the proper use of face-saving tactics is worth-noticing in order to have successful dealings in negotiating project disputes.


In construction, there are some distinct features which may influence the use of face-saving tactics and the behaviour of project dispute negotiators. The findings of this research would provide an insight into promoting proactive and collaborative project dispute resolution.



Yiu, T.W. and Chung, Y.N. (2014), "Face-saving tactics as an aid to construction negotiation in Hong Kong", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 609-630.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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