Intercultural conflict : a multi-method study of conflict, trust repair, and conflict resolution
Date of Issue2018
College of Business (Nanyang Business School)
Centre for Leadership and Cultural Intelligence
This dissertation has three purposes. The first purpose is to clarify the concept of conflict in order to reconcile inconsistent definitions of conflict in the literature. The second purpose is to go beyond the current focus on broad conflict-management styles by examining the specific moves that senior executives use to manage intercultural conflicts. The third purpose is to cross-validate findings from a senior executive sample with a student sample. I first use a scientometric analysis to review conflict management literature. Then, I adopt a multi-method approach for the two subsequent studies. In the first study, I interview senior executives (n = 40) about their responses to 160 intercultural conflict episodes. I analyze these interviews following procedures adapted from grounded theory to develop a taxonomy of intercultural conflict management moves. I then adopt, in the second study, a quantitative method to cross-validate my findings with a sample of 41 students (i.e., an additional 164 intercultural conflict episodes). Through this research, I first propose a working definition of intercultural conflict. Second, I discover 10 intercultural conflict-management moves among senior executives’ responses, some of which have not yet been identified in previous literature. Last, findings from the cross-validation study highlight the greater sophistication of senior executives’ intercultural conflict-management moves compared with students’. In particular, senior executives tend to elaborate more than students across all intercultural conflict-management moves. I discuss the implications of these findings for future research and practice.