MENTAL PROGRAMMING AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STYLES: A CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY IN SINGAPORE
Wu, W., National University of Singapore, Singapore and Zhu, J.H., City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
The trend of global economy and Singapore' efforts to become a regional hub of business have together brought in many MNCs and expatriate managers into Singapore. Due to cultural and managerial style differences, these managers and their local colleagues have inevitably encountered various conflicts. The study examines how these managers are likely to solve the conflicts. Building on the theory of Hofstede's cultural mental programs as well as Rahim and Bonoma's conflict management model, the current study examines how national culture, organizational culture, and managerial factors may influence these managers' conflict management styles through an empirical study of 600 managers in Singapore. The respondents were equally divided into four groups: Americans, Japanese, Chinese Singaporeans in MNCs and Singaporeans in local companies and were interviewed face-to-face. The three groups were chosen because according to Hostede and other scholars' studies, these three countries occupied different positions along the cultural value continuum, with Singapore and the United States near both ends and Japan in between. The respondents were first interviewed for their mental programming, namely, Individualism-collectivism, Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance and Masculinity and femininity. As for the organisational cultures, we examined the variables of management styles. A list of questions based on Rahim's model was then used to explore the respondents' styles in managing conflict. Finally, influences of the factors such as the respondents' language proficiency, their managerial positions, length of exposure to different cultures were also studied.