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Issue 1/2014

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna


Significant factors in the processs of conflict solution 
in the multicultural work setting. Triangulation in data interpretation.

Karolina Mazurowska, Paweł Boski

The study investigated styles of conflict resolution employed by Chinese and foreign managers in a multicultural work setting in Mainland China. Mixed method approach (quantitative and qualitative) to data collection and interpretation was used. Study I (quantitative) was conducted among Chinese and German managers working in international/Chinese companies in Mainland China. The questionnaire, developed by the author, involved critical incidents that described misunderstandings that occur in the intercultural and intracultural work settings in China. Participants were asked to choose a method of conflict resolution (Accommodating, Competing, Avoiding, Compromising, Collaborating). Study II (qualitative) involved 19 in-depth interviews with German expats and 13 interviews with Chinese managers conducted in Beijing. Critical incidents describing misunderstandings in work setting in China were collected, transcribed and coded in line with the grounded theory approach supported by N-Vivo software. Quantitative results indicated a clear preference among Chinese and German managers to choose the collaborating or compromising method of handling conflict, the accommodating and avoiding styles were negatively evaluated by both parties. However the qualitative data threw a different light on quantitative findings. In comparison to the questionnaire answers, interviewees used to choose styles according to their cultural patterns. Germans expatriates preferred to confront or control their Chinese employees, whereas Chinese hosts used to use passive non-compliance and accommodation as their strategy towards a foreign employer. Method of handling problems between Germans and Chinese subordinates changed in the course of interaction if maintaining good relations with the local coworker was important for the European expatriate. Interpreting quantitative and qualitative data in a single study gives us a better understanding of motives that stand behind choice of the conflict resolution styles in the multicultural work setting.

Keywords: cross-cultural research, expats, Chinese, Germans, conflict resolution, mixed method approach, qualitative research

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