Defeated With Their Own Weapons: Conflict Management Adaptation in Cross-Cultural Conflict Among British and Spanish Expatriates
Abstract: Due to intercultural encounters becoming more and more frequent in times of globalization, the importance of successful intercultural conflict management has increased. In intercultural conflict, cultural differences in conflict management styles (CMS) can lead to misunderstandings and poorer negotiation outcomes. However, it is yet to be understood if and how individuals overcome CMS discrepancies. A few studies have shown that interculturally experienced individuals adapt their CMS towards their counterpart’s cultural background in Western-Eastern samples. This study investigated this phenomenon in a European context: CMS preferences of British expatriates in Spain (n = 113) and Spanish expatriates in the UK (n = 141) were tested in two imagined conflict situations with a colleague of their own or the other culture respectively. Results revealed that Spanish and British participants differed significantly in their use of dominating and avoiding CMS and that they partially adapted to the other culture’s CMS patterns. Further, the expatriates’ Cultural Intelligence, cultural experience, and daily interaction level with host nationals were tested as predictors of the amount of CMS adaptation in a hierarchical regression analysis. None of the variables turned out to be a significant predictor. Implications for the understanding of intercultural conflict dynamics and future research directions are discussed, including suggestions for an adjustment of the culture-based social-ecological conflict model.
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