China Media Research - Vol 9 No 4

  Issue Vol. 9, No. 4 / October 2013

Special Issue: Managing Language and Cultural Challenges in Cross-border Deal-making
Guest Editor: Xiaohui Yuan
Managing Language and Cultural Challenges in Cross-border Deal-making
Author(s): Xiaohui Yuan
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In today’s challenging times, ‘conflict’ has become a prominent issue in politics and in business. More often than not, parties involved in a conflict are from very different cultures. To achieve an agreeable resolution, the ability to manage language and cultural challenges in mediation and negotiation is vital. As the Principal Investigator, I initiated and managed a research project, under the sponsorship of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK, on Translating Cultures in International Mediation. The project has served as a solid foundation for this special issue that encompasses the project partner’s invaluable contributions. Specifically, three areas were investigated during the collaborative efforts between academics, professional mediators and interpreters: 1) the use of language in managing interactions during mediation and negotiation; 2) cultural factors affecting people’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour in disputes and mediation/negotiation; 3) the use of interpretation in intercultural mediation/negotiation. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 1-4]
Mediating Conflict on TV: A Discourse Analysis of the Gold Medal Mediation Episodes
Author(s): Yiheng Deng, Kaibin Xu, Xiaoqiu Fu, and Sang Ma
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Gold Medal Mediation, a Chinese TV reality show, demonstrates conflict management through third-party mediation on TV, has achieved mounting viewing rate in China over the past five years. This study analyzed seven conflict mediation episodes of the program recorded from the Jiangxi Satellite TV. The conflicts ranged from problems between married couples, to the disagreement between parents and their only child, the controversial teenage romance, as well as the disputes with the in-laws and among neighbors. This study found that, on the one hand, the program serves as a means to propagate the mainstream traditions and values for conflict management in today’s Chinese society; on the other hand, the mediation model shown on TV manifests the social and cultural expectations of how conflict should be resolved, especially by addressing the emotions of the disputants and tackling the relational aspect of the conflict. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 5-14]
Liminalities at Work: Chinese Professionals’ Immigrant Identity Negotiations
Author(s): Min Wu, Patrice M. Buzzanell
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Using theories of liminalities in identity constructions and communication processes of resilience, this study of Chinese professionals who had immigrated to the United States shows how these participants live with ongoing tensions in their professional identities that they were able to partly construct in U.S. career systems. By negotiating their intercultural and professional identities in their workplaces, they build strong identity anchors in professionalism, dis-identify with Guanxi, and seek to reconcile their prior beliefs in meritocratic U.S. organizing processes with their understandings that they may never be fully part of the American workplaces because of their lack of native English and popular cultural knowledge. However, their abilities to build and sustain a resilient and new lifestyle provide insights for theoretical and pragmatic applications. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 15-26]
Border Institutions - What Is Lacking in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Dispute
Author(s): Dexin Tian and Chin-Chung Chao
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This study explores the interactions among the claimants for the sovereignty over the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands dispute with the intention to find out what is lacking in their communication for a genuinely peaceful and mutually beneficial solution to the multilateral international conflict. Guided by the theory of border institutions and via the research methods of hermeneutics, we found that the US, though not a claimant, appears officially neutral but actually pro-Japan in the conflict, though deeply involved in the dispute, purposely remains on the sidelines. As claimants, Japan, China and Taiwan all insist on their own claims based on supporting evidence from various perspectives so strongly that they leave no room for negotiations. Nevertheless, the study reveals that a peaceful and collaborative resolution to this complex dispute can only result from genuine dialogues for appreciating, reconstructing, and maintaining border institutions, possibly under the influence or leadership of the US. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 27-44]
Language Choice as a Potential Source of Intercultural Discord in English-Mandarin Business Encounters
Author(s): Mary Fischer
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Until recently Anglophone business research into the issues surrounding the costs of and barriers to internationalisation has focused on cultural barriers and their potential for conflict and misunderstanding. Most of this research assumes that, as English is the international language of business, language itself is not an issue and that communication problems are situated in underlying cultural assumptions. This paper surveys recent research on issues relating to the use of a lingua franca, normally English, in intercultural business dealings, and in communication and conflict management, and relates it to a pilot study of five Chinese business people who use English in their daily business transactions. The results confirm that the choice of language itself has considerable potential for causing conflict, and raises interlinked issues of face, harmony, hierarchy, directness and power. Furthermore, the Chinese preference for conflict avoidance and indirectness means that many of these conflicts may be hidden from the English speaking interlocutors. This has implications for monolingual English speaking businesses in their future dealings with Chinese counterparts. It also contributes to identifying potential underlying sources of conflict in these interactions. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 45-52]
A Mediator’s Experiences in Dealing with Cultural Differences in Commercial Mediations
Author(s): Duncan Campbell
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Successful mediation depends on effective communication. The mediator has to be able to interpret both what is said and what is unsaid. Good communication is needed at two levels: between the parties themselves and between the parties and the mediator. The mediator must be able to build up rapport so the parties can have sufficient trust and confidence to share their private thoughts about the dispute. A mediation where the parties are from different cultures will present particular challenges for the mediator. This paper will explore these challenges and how a mediator can deal with cultural barriers on the path to reaching a settlement. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 53-57]
An Interpersonal Neurobiology View of the Diverse Roles of Culture in Conflict
Author(s): Ian A Marsh
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In this paper I consider the complex interactions of culture and conflict through the twin lenses of interpersonal neurobiology and my experience of working with conflict as both hired gun (litigator) and peacemaker (intervenor). After briefly introducing the subject of interpersonal neurobiology and reflecting on the nature of both culture and conflict, I explore the notions of culture as a cause of conflict and culture as an effect of conflict. I conclude by arguing that storytelling is our principal means of acculturation and offers a powerful tool in managing conflict. I do not claim any original thought here (but who knows?). Nor is this a comprehensive review of the relevant literature. Rather, as we often do in mediation, I simply write in the hope that by illuminating familiar territory from new angles we may see in it things we have not seen before. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 58-65]
Cultural Differences in the Orientation to Disagreement and Conflict
Author(s): Stefanie Stadler
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In order to be/become effective in one’s dealings with people from different cultural backgrounds perhaps nothing is quite as important as the ability to adequately interpret the social, situational and interactional context in which a conversation is taking place. This ability forms a prerequisite to choosing appropriate interactional and behavioural strategies. It forms a competency that applies in particular to sensitive situations. In my research on disagreeing behaviour in two different cultural contexts, the way in which people negotiate conflict in such potentially face-threatening situations has been found to differ starkly. The impact of these differences can have severe and harmful consequences on intercultural relations. It appears to be necessary for effective dealings across cultures to interpret behaviours in the light of the interactants’ culturally influenced behavioural preferences, expectations and orientations. This includes for example differences in orientation towards disagreement (is disagreement to be avoided and carefully negotiated or is it acceptable and non-threatening), differences in rapport management (what weight is placed on the building/maintenance of interpersonal relations in a transaction) or the importance and manifestation of face-concepts. In this paper I not only discuss differences in orientation towards disagreement and the resolution of conflict, but also the implications that a failure to adhere to cultural expectations can invoke. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 66-75]
Developing a Shared Understanding of Conflict: Foundations for Sino-Western Mediation
Author(s): Dean Tjosvold and Lin Wang
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Conflict is pervasive especially when people from diverse cultures live and work together. Thus, clearly understanding conflict and how it can be approached is vital to productive collaboration in Sino-Western teams. Based on considerable studies conducted in both China and West, this paper identifies how Chinese and Western partners can develop their common capabilities to manage conflict constructively to get things done and strengthen their relationships. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 76-84]
Mediation Talk in Cross Cultural Perspective: The Contribution of Conversation Analysis
Author(s): Angela Cora Garcia
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In this paper, I review the literature on language and cultural difference in order to show how culture can affect the communicative process in situations of conflict and in conflict resolution procedures such as mediation. Achieving and maintaining intersubjective understanding is more challenging in situations of conflict and in conflict resolution procedures, such as mediation, which depend on face-to-face interaction between the participants. Language and cultural differences that exist in all interactions are made more centrally relevant by conflict. The paper will demonstrate how conversation analysis can contribute to the understanding of cultural difference in mediation by providing the means to investigate how participants achieve and maintain intersubjectivity and repair failures of understanding when they occur. I will show that there is a paradox in mediation as it is often practiced, with the same interactional procedures that succeed in minimizing arguing also partially disabling the mechanisms for repair of misunderstandings. The discussion section addresses potential innovations in the organization mediation sessions so that both of these important functions can be accomplished. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 85-101]
Face Representation in Interpreting Politician-Journalist Interactions
Author(s): Xiaohui Yuan
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Face management embodies comprehensive interpersonal dynamics and explains how people in society use verbal and non-verbal language to manage rapport and to negotiate face needs with each other in order to achieve various interactional goals. Face management behaviour exhibited in the course of an interaction can reflect an interlocutor’s personality, attitude and intentions. In translation, how face management features are represented may impact on translation users’ interpretation of the interpersonal dynamics presented in the source text. In a similar vein, manipulation of face management features in interpretation may be resorted to by the interpreter as an effective means of taking stance with parties and achieving professional competence. Relating the findings to dispute resolution, it will be fruitful to study face management strategies in mediation interactions, how face is represented in interpreting when an interpreter is engaged to facilitate the interaction, and the interpreter’s role and power in the mediation process. [China Media Research. 2013; 9(4): 102-113]
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