Implications of Honor and Dignity Culture for Negotiations: A Comparative Study of Middle Easterners and Americans
Posted: 27 Jun 2011
Researchers long have assumed that negotiators give priority to economic outcomes over relational outcomes such as satisfaction with negotiation process and desire for future interactions with the counterpart. However the relational structure of a negotiation may be more or less attended to depending on the importance of relationships within a culture. In this paper, we argue that in negotiations conducted in Middle Eastern culture – which can be considered a culture of honor – relational concerns, processes, and outcomes are more important than in Western cultures. We used a role-playing negotiation exercise with both economic and relational issues at stake to examine the impact of culture and relational context on Middle Eastern and American negotiators’ plans, tactics, insight and economic and subjective outcomes. Results indicate of several relational challenges that Middle Easterners face in negotiations, as compared to Americans, including too much emphasis on face-saving and conflict avoidance when negotiating with familiar others, and too much concern about protection of honor and status leading to misunderstandings, and escalation of emotional conflict when negotiating with unfamiliar others. These relational challenges (concerning face and honor) also had economic consequences by leading Middle Eastern participants to set higher aspirations, be more competitive, exchange information less effectively, and obtain lower joint gains than American dyads. Furthermore we found the economic and social outcomes were not as strongly related for the Middle Eastern negotiators as for the Americans. Unlike the American negotiators, the Middle Eastern negotiators seemed to evaluate their satisfaction with a negotiation only in the light of their subjective experiences such as self-image and quality of relationship built, and their satisfaction was very weakly related to the economic gains of the negotiators.
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