Fluidity and Performance in Intercultural Workplace Interactions: The Role of Behavioral Mirroring and Relational Attunement

56 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2006

See all articles by Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Sally Blount

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Caroline A. Bartel

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business

Date Written: September 2006

Abstract

This article examines the perceptual and behavioral dynamics underlying intercultural interactions at work. Specifically, this paper studies how culture-based differences in relational attunement differentially affect how U.S. Anglos and U.S. Latinos perceive workplace interactions. In a field experiment conducted at a Fortune 500 headquarters, Anglo and Latino managers interacted with a confederate in a business interview who did (or did not) engage in behavioral mirroring unbeknownst to the participant. Results show that the level of mirroring affected participants' experiences and actual performance (evaluated via videotape by third-party experts) and that these effects were moderated by cultural group membership. Stronger effects were observed across mirroring conditions for Latinos than for Anglos. A second laboratory experiment provides evidence that culture based differences in relational attunement is a causal mechanism underlying these effects. These results demonstrate how performance in intercultural workplace interactions can be compromised even in the absence of overt prejudice.

Keywords: Intercultural Interactions, Relational Attunement, Diversity, Culture, Cultural Psychology, Prejudice, Discrimination, Lations, Mimicry, Mirroring

JEL Classification: M00, M10

Suggested Citation

Sanchez-Burks, Jeffrey and Blount, Sally and Bartel, Caroline A., Fluidity and Performance in Intercultural Workplace Interactions: The Role of Behavioral Mirroring and Relational Attunement (September 2006). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1039, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=928584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.928584

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Sally Blount

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 7-52
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-0233 (Phone)
212-995-4234 (Fax)

Caroline A. Bartel

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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