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Cultural Interpretations of Conflict Essay

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Updated: Jul 10th, 2021

As organisations expand and begin employing diverse and multicultural staff, conflicts arise between different social groups. The phenomenon has been present before, and there is an extensive and varied body of research regarding negotiation and resolution. However, many of these studies and theories employ a Western perspective, which usually incorporates a dual-concern model of assertiveness and cooperation. However, challenges to this view, which are primarily based on Eastern concepts such as harmony, are rising. This post investigates the differences between the two notions and their use in the resolution of inter-group conflicts.

Traditional paradigms of conflict theory try to determine a person’s tendencies and their influences on the outcome of the disagreement. According to “Cross-cultural studies” (n.d.), a popular model uses two traits of an individual: assertiveness and co-operativeness, which can combine to form one of five approaches. The research of Olekalns and Druckman (2015) supports the notion and adds that until recently, much of the theory on negotiation has neglected emotions and considered their impediments. While the ideas permit easy quantification and can be highly beneficial in abstract considerations, they can lead to inaccurate conclusions during confrontations with cultures that have different values.

Eastern theorists, in particular, devote significant attention to the relationships between people and their evolution. Huang (2016) supplies a Chinese model that concentrates on the achievement of harmony through the elimination of deceptive behaviours and separates conflicts into genuine and superficial. The objective in this school of thinking is not to obtain an end result that satisfies both parties in conflict but to promote a mutually beneficial relationship between them. After the goal is accomplished, the issue would not arise due to the alignment of interest between the two groups, removing the need for outside interference. The approach represents a noteworthy deviation from the theory described above, which focuses on individual confrontations.

However, the two schools of thought are not exclusive and can be combined for improved efficiency. According to Caputo and Ayoko (2016), the trait known as cultural intelligence is essential for successful intercultural interactions. The concept is somewhat new and requires further investigation, as it has been the subject of less research than other characteristics. Wang (2018) provides models such as the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, which is aimed at fostering understanding of other societies to promote adaptation and integration. Ultimately, the workforce should be able to minimise inter-group conflicts and gain the ability to resolve them without management intervention, which requires the appropriate expertise.

Different cultures, particularly those of the West and East, adopt considerably varied approaches to conflicts within organisations and their resolution. Contemporary Western thought considers conflicts as isolated events and tries to reach an outcome that will satisfy each party. Eastern approaches, however, attempt to promote harmony between people to ensure that confrontations do not appear due to the shared goals of the participants. The two methods can be combined, but strategies aimed at the development of intercultural understanding among the staff are necessary for the purpose.


Caputo, A., & Ayoko, O. B. (2016). Web.

Cross cultural studies. (n.d.). Web.

Huang, L. L. (2016). Frontiers in psychology, 7(847). Web.

Olekalns, M., & Druckman, D. (2015). Web.

Wang, J. (2018). Strategies for managing cultural conflict: Models review and their applications in business and technical communication. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 48(3), 281-294.

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