Compare and Contrast the Chinese Dominant Negotiation Characteristics to that of the American Dominant Negotiation Characteristics

When two parties or individuals with differences which they need to resolve attempt to reach an agreement by exploring the options and exchange offers and as a result reach an agreement, the process is referred to as negotiation. Negotiation has implications because everyone involved has mixed reasons for participating. There is also the reason why both parties are in negotiation in the first place. The choices that the parties make in determining the strategy they apply during the negotiation and its outcome also determines how the other party reacts. Negotiation is present in all aspects of social interaction and as a result the business aspect of society.

Culture is the summation of beliefs, techniques, rules, artifacts and institutions which form the basis of human character (Rugman & Collinson, 2006). In sociology, the process of socialization which means that a person’s culture is the basis of the influence that their parents, education, friends and how they interact with other members of society (Rugman & Collinson, 2006). Culture influences negotiation in a number of ways and as disputes and negotiations are becoming common between people from varying cultures, the knowledge on how to resolve these conflicts efficiently and effectively is important.

Semnani-Azad and Adair (2011) wrote that cultural differences are expected in the display of dominant behavior. Prior research suggest that East Asians, when compared to North Americans tend to be more cooperative when dealing with in-groups. They also suggest that North Americans are more likely to vary their posture and display more emotion as opposed to their East Asian counterparts who instead restrain their posture and mask any emotion which is deemed negative (Semnani-Azad& Adair, 2011). This shows the role that culture plays when it comes to negotiation and how it may be used to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the results in the long run. One cannot remove culture from negotiation as it is intrinsic in all of us as individuals. It is what we have learnt and what we have become accustomed to.

The Chinese ethnic culture revolves around the relationships that a person has with those they are related to and they interact with. In this culture, relationships are important and as a result negotiations may go smoothly if both parties have a pre-existing relationship. In negotiations, the Chinese use it as a process of building and nurturing relationships so as to produce results which will benefit all who are involved. This process of negotiation never ends until the relationship created ends (Neidel, 2010).  The Americans believe that negotiations usually end once the contract is approved and signed by both parties (Neidel, 2010). Once the contract has been signed, the relationship can develop (Akgunes, et. al, 2012). There is also an aspect of reclusiveness when it comes to affairs that do not concern them personally. This usually means that strangers or those people outside the relationship network may not be helped when in need. Fang (2006) writes that having local people working for your company in China can go a long way in helping with negotiations. This can be attributed to the familistic society where trust is high for those inside and low for outsiders.

The American society differs in that the ethnic culture revolves around the individual. The most important person to an individual is themselves first and foremost. In terms of helping those in need, Americans have a desire to save everyone, whether they have asked for help or not. They may be seen as having a messianic complex. In order for one to negotiate successfully, there is need for them to take an approach which is people-oriented. A negotiation which is verbally persuasive but is quick to turn to legal proceedings at the initial meeting will be frowned upon as merely imprudent and superficial and insincere (Fang, 2006).

When it comes to trust, the Chinese believe in trusting those around them. A negotiation in Chinese is a combination of two characters which essentially mean to discuss and to judge. From this perspective, this process exists mainly as a means by which trust is built in order for the parties involved to work together and benefit mutually (Neidel, 2010). Face is very important in the Chinese social psychology. This means that they will go to great lengths to avoid saying no and experts on Chinese negotiating styles advise that one will gain a lot if they help the Chinese save face and lose more if you do not (Fang, 2006). Contracts and agreements need to be lived up to in order to avoid disgrace or humiliation by failing to comply. The Americans believe that one can only trust the contract and the contract is usually lived up to so as to avoid getting into legal problems as a result of failing to live up to it.

American business culture is one that is characterized by individuals who are eloquent and outspoken and are also able to communicate effectively. The Chinese on the other hand are more quiet and reserved and unlike their counterparts, are deemed clumsy when it comes to communicating their opinions. Negotiation in the Chinese culture is usually determined by their leader who has the final say. Americans give individuals more authority and decision making is usually more distributed. Akgunes, et. al. (2012) write that education in China incorporates instructions which are direct, and as a result students do not ask a lot of questions. This has resulted in the Chinese people becoming more open to accepting things without question. The Americans use an approach which is more constructive in their education system and questions are usually encouraged from the students. This difference in education systems and techniques results in the Chinese being overconfident in how they carry out their discussions and quick to draw conclusions from things said during negotiations which can be unwarranted.

When dealing with their business partners, the Chinese are usually courteous and indirect. The lack of clarity on the Chinese industrial policy, for example, or government regulations may result in a poor strategic approach which may result in conflict which in turn slows down the negotiation process (Neidel, 2010). They have a tendency to take things personally while making note of favors given to them as well as humiliations they may have been put through. Americans are more direct and straightforward with their business counterparts.

In American culture, it is considered polite to make a lot of eye contact which is seen as a sign of good will as well as interest in what is being said or what one is communicating to their listener. The Chinese show respect by doing the complete opposite which is avoiding eye contact. Too much eye contact is viewed as staring which in turn is rude (Akgunes et al., 2012). With this disparity, this can lead to a major misinterpretation of the intentions and attitudes of the other parties and can result in loss of trust which is crucial in negotiation.

Culture plays an important role in negotiations because, in spite of the issues at hand or the context in which they are taken, negotiators usually apply regularities and patterns they are familiar with (Fowler, 2009). These means are usually rooted in culture and people often view things from their subjective attitudes, their attachments and inclinations, their likes and dislikes, and other factors according to their culture. Negotiation relies heavily on reading the signals being sent by the counterpart whether knowingly or unknowingly with emphasis on the matter at hand (Fowler, 2009).

Culture plays a major role in providing solutions which are functional in critical issues of social interaction such as trust repair and how to do so effectively using apologies (Maddux, 2011). If one is unaware of how to conduct himself/herself after they have wronged another party, negotiations may be unsuccessful because their ignorance may result in further miscommunication and as a result more distrust or conflict. Knowing the wronged party’s culture may provide a map on how to gain back the lost trust and strengthen their relationship.


Differences in patterns in global diversity and their implications have made it important for different nationalities to learn about other nationalities. By learning about other cultures, misunderstandings are avoided and new partnerships and relationships are created. This also ensures that the relationships created and nurtured and maintained. Tu (2012) wrote that culture is the most important factor in negotiations. By understanding the differences and similarities of each other’s cultures, negotiators are able to communicate effectively and succeed in the whole process of negotiations eventually. The knowledge and sophistication required for these negotiations have rendered many negotiation processes unsuccessful due to issues arising from culture as opposed to any legal or economic problem (Tu, 2012). It is therefore important that both parties involved change their tactics in order to meet the other party halfway.

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