Buying Insurance for Harmony: A Relational Risk Perspective on Conflict Avoidance

34 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2011

See all articles by Zhi‐Xue Zhang

Zhi‐Xue Zhang

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management

Xin Wei

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management

Kwok Leung

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) - Department of Management Sciences

Date Written: June 24, 2011

Abstract

This research adopted the relational risk perspective to understand why people choose to avoid conflicts rather than confront conflict. The interest-focused paradigm, which has long dominated the conflict resolution, assumes that disputing parties tend to maximize their self-interest, but ignores the multiple concerns by disputants in conflict situations. The relational risk perspective proposed in this paper argues that, relationship concern plays an important role in conflict resolutions, and even outweighs the economic concern in cultures or situations where interpersonal harmony is emphasized; and the risk evaluations based on the relational concern will determine the resolutions they take. Specifically, when people encounter a conflict with others who they have kept a relationship, they may anticipate that directly confronting the conflict will sour this relationship, and they would rather avoid the conflict in order to maintain the interpersonal harmony. Four studies using both American and Chinese samples were conducted. The results consistently showed that anticipation of relational strain predicted conflict avoidance. Moreover, we found relationship closeness, interpersonal orientation, and values orientation affected such anticipation; and anticipation of relational strain mediated the relationships between these factors and conflict avoidance. The established theoretical framework in this paper offers new insights into conflict resolution.

Keywords: conflict resolution, harmony, relational perspective, anticipation of relational strain, avoiding

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Zhi-Xue and Wei, Xin and Leung, Kwok, Buying Insurance for Harmony: A Relational Risk Perspective on Conflict Avoidance (June 24, 2011). IACM 24TH Annual Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1872133 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1872133

Zhi-Xue Zhang (Contact Author)

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Xin Wei

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Kwok Leung

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) - Department of Management Sciences ( email )

Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon Tong
Kowloon
Hong Kong
852-2788-8985 (Phone)
852-2788-8960 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cityu.edu.hk

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