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Journal cover: International Journal of Conflict Management

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Online from: 1990

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Chinese employees' interpersonal conflict management strategies

Document Information:
Title:Chinese employees' interpersonal conflict management strategies
Author(s):Hannah-Hanh D. Nguyen, (Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California, USA), Jie Yang, (School of Business Administration, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang, China)
Citation:Hannah-Hanh D. Nguyen, Jie Yang, (2012) "Chinese employees' interpersonal conflict management strategies", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 4, pp.382 - 412
Keywords:Chinese conflict management strategy, Chinese people, Conflict resolution, Emic conflict management, International organizational practices, Organizational conflict
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/10444061211267272 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This research project was sponsored by the Personnel Decision International-Global Research Consortium (PDI-GRC No. 00-CKW-A1) and Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC No. 70962001). Please send correspondence to Hannah-Hanh D. Nguyen at, or Department of Psychology, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840, 562-985-1545, or Jie Yang at

Purpose – The main research purposes of this paper are to: conceptualize Chinese conflict management behaviors as contingent on the hierarchical relations of conflict parties in an organizational context; and investigate individual characteristics as moderators in this contingency framework.

Design/methodology/approach – This emic study consisted of two steps: using nine subject matter experts to develop conflict scenarios and conflict management strategies, and using this instrument to collect data from 704 actual employees across China. Multinomial logistic analysis was used to analyze respondents' choice of strategies.

Findings – The findings supported the hypotheses. Chinese role-playing a supervisor in a conflict with their subordinate tended to use direct, assertive strategies to resolve the conflict, but the results depended on age, education, gender, region and work experience. As a subordinate in a conflict with their supervisor, Chinese chose indirect, harmony-preserving strategies, particularly when they were older and more interaction adept. In a conflict with a peer, respondents used a broader spectrum of conflict management strategies, depending on their individual characteristics. No “best practices” were found or universal strategies adopted.

Research limitations/implications – The limitations include the lack of random sampling and a scenario-based method. The emic evidence for a contingency perspective of conflict resolution framework was provided. The conflict scenarios may be used in organizational training of conflict management.

Originality/value – Conflict scenarios and management strategies developed by local subject matter experts were used to evaluate Chinese workers' choices of conflict management strategies. The findings call for the re-conceptualization of conflict management strategies as a contingent and culture-specific construct.

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