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Multidisciplinary perspectives on intercultural conflict: the "Bermuda Triangle" of conflict, culture and communication

By Nathalie van Meurs and Helen Spencer-Oatey


A few decades ago, managers spent more than 20% of their time trying to resolve conflicts (Thomas and Schmidt 1976). Nowadays, conflicts are probably even more complex and time consuming to resolve, because technological advances, the world‟s exponential growth rate, and globalization have led to increased contact between culturally diverse people. Different norms, values, and language can make negotiating more stressful and less satisfactory (Brett and Okumura 1998), and conflict cannot be managed effectively without simultaneously considering both culture and communication. In fact, the three concepts of conflict, culture and communication are like a Bermuda Triangle – hazardous conditions will emerge unless the three are simultaneously handled appropriately.\ud Conflict processes are studied by researchers in a range of disciplines, including organizational behaviour, management studies, (intercultural) communication studies, peace studies, and applied linguistics. Unfortunately, research in these various disciplines tends to exist in parallel fields, with infrequent passages across theoretical and empirical divides. In this chapter we provide an overview of key theoretical frameworks, explore some of the main views as to the impact of culture, and consider the interrelationships between conflict, culture and communication. We call for more interdisciplinary research, so that boundaries can be broken down and illuminating new insights can emerge

Topics: P1, HM
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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