For each of the four situations, specify what is the sources of conflict from the list (incompatible goals, cognitive conflict, affective conflict, power/status differences, scarce resources or breakdown in communications). Justify your answer.
Karl Morel, an acquisitions expert from Nestlé, found himself in a challenging situation when he was negotiating a joint venture in China. Morel led a team to Shanghai to explore a venture with a company that made packaged Chinese delicacies. The initial meetings with eight Chinese executives had him baffled. Morel and his team tried to be friendly and transparent, providing all of the details the Chinese wanted. “But they were impenetrable and unwilling to budge on any of their demands,” Morel said.
After a frustrating week, Morel and his colleagues met with a Chinese business consultant to figure out how they should adjust their approach. “The consultant told us that our approach was wrong, that we were going too fast.” Morel reported. He said they weren’t going to get what they wanted from the Chinese executives until they developed guanxi with them.
Guanxi is a Chinese term used to describe relationships that may benefit both parties. As the consultant explained, to develop good guanxi, one must build trust from the heart. “Forget the deal for a while,” he said. “Open up personally. Make a friend. A real one.”
Morel took the consultant’s advice, inviting his Chinese counterparts out for dinner, and including people from different levels of the company. There was live music and plenty of food from the Tianjin area of China, where the owner of the Chinese company was from. It was an excellent dinner, and there was plenty of socializing. The two groups toasted each other several times in a sign of mutual respect and emphasized their happiness at the prospect of a long-term relationship. After restarting the meetings the following Monday, the Chinese were much more willing to cooperate and the teams made excellent progress during their second week together.
In 2017, Heineken purchased a big operation in Monterrey, Mexico, and now a large number of head-office employees come from Northern Mexico. Carlos Gomez was sent to Amsterdam to manage a plant there. For someone such as Gomez, who has learned to lead in a culture where deference to authority is relatively high, it is both confusing and challenging to lead a team where the boss is seen as just one of the guys. In this case, the challenge was particularly strong, as the Netherlands is one of the most egalitarian cultures in the world. Gomez explained:
I will schedule a meeting in order to roll out a new process, and during the meeting my team starts challenging the process, taking the meeting in various unexpected directions, ignoring my process altogether, and paying no attention to the fact that they work for me. Sometimes I just watch them astounded. But often I just feel like getting down on my knees and pleading with them, “Dear colleagues, in case you have forgotten I…..am……the boss.”
In Thai culture, there is a strong emphasis on avoiding mistakes, and we are very group oriented in our decision making. If the Americans want to hear from us on a conference call, they need to send the agenda at least 24 hours in advance so that we can prepare what we’d like to say and get feedback from our peers.”
Unfortunately, the Thai manager told me, his U.S. colleagues usually didn’t send the agenda until an hour before the call, so his team was unable to prepare. And it struggled to understand what was said during the call, because the U.S. participants spoke too quickly. He also said that the Americans rarely invited comments from the Thais, expecting them to jump into the conversation as they themselves would. But that kind of intervention is not the norm in Thailand, where it is much less common to speak if not invited or questioned. The Thai manager summed up his perspective this way: “They invite us to the meeting, but they don’t suggest with their actions that they care what we have to say.” The Thai team members ended up just sitting on the phone listening—giving the Americans the impression that they had nothing to contribute or weren’t interested in participating.
Originally from China, Jin had recently started a new job as a management consultant in New York City and was immediately placed on two different project teams with individuals from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands. Jin was keen on making a positive impression, but felt ill-equipped to do so, especially in this mostly Western multicultural team environment. Jin’s fellow consultants would express their opinions with assertiveness, confidence and enthusiasm. They would speak out of turn, often interrupting each other, and sometimes speaking over each other.In China, communication was very different and had more of a turn-taking quality: one person would speak — typically the most senior member of the team — and others would politely listen. After that person had spoken, others could contribute as well, though always in ways that would not threaten the “face” of their superior. Jin’s different communication style showed up on his performance review — as a liability. His manager used words such as “lacking confidence,” “not a team player,” and “not willing to contribute to team discussions.” But Jin had thought he was all of those things — confident, a team player and willing to contribute to group discussions — and even made efforts to adapt his style when working with this Western-dominant team. These efforts went unnoticed. For more information on Conflict Resolutions visit this: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/international-conflict-resolution
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