Term Paper: Intercultural Conflict Management Today's Society

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[. . .] 442) By consistently demonstrating truthfulness, sincerity and commitment, rather than simply opportunism, businesses can effectively build multicultural teams.

In addition, businesses must recognize that each member of the team is unique in many ways, and work to develop creative combinations of personalities, time, place, theme and goal.

Culturally sensitive leadership is an important part of intercultural conflict management and a significant driving force in cross-cultural communication. Individuals in management positions must be culturally sensitive when leading global projects.

Avoiding Intercultural Conflict

There are several ways that a manager can avoid intercultural conflict when leading a global project (Delgado, 1998, p. 444). By promoting creativity, providing a consistent vision and encouraging learning, a manager is building a strong, unified team that is less likely to be divided in conflict due to cultural differences.

In addition, a manager should express a sense of pride in all team members and show enthusiasm regarding their potential, taking into account their diverse backgrounds, skills and education. By displaying consistent behavior and encouraging unity and a positive attitude, a manager's awareness of cultural differences can make global projects successful

While many steps can be taken to avoid intercultural conflict, sometimes it cannot be avoided. Therefore, an extremely important aspect of conflict management is conflict resolution. In most cases, when two or more people from different cultural backgrounds are involved in a conflict, each person has different ideas about the best way to resolve it.

For example, someone from one culture may interpret higher voice volume as threatening while someone from another culture may think a higher voice volume is a way to communicate effectively. It is easy to see how something as simple as voice volume could prevent conflict resolution.

When working to resolve conflicts of a cultural nature or seeking to avoid future problems, it is important to (p. 446):

Examine the role of cultural differences.

Determine the psychological factors of intercultural conflict.

Increase awareness of how cultural perspectives affect behavior.

Develop effective strategies to resolve intercultural conflicts and prevent new ones.

Culture is basically a set of attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors learned or developed by individuals themselves or passed on to them through social experience. According to Kevin Avruch and Peter Black, anthropologists and conflict resolution scholars at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, "culture consists of the derivatives of experience, more or less organized, learned or created by the individuals of a population, including those images or encodements and their interpretations (meanings) transmitted from past generations, from contemporaries, or formed by individuals themselves." (Avruch, 1998, p. 17)

Avruch and Black were amongst the first researchers to recognize that culture, as a concept, is a powerful analytical tool. According to the duo, when attempting to understand conflict behavior, it is necessary to pay attention to the indigenous understandings of being and action that individuals use in the production and interpretation of conflict behavior (p. 21-24).

All human groups have developed their own ways of responding to conflict depending on their cultural beliefs. There are many different culturally constituted techniques and processes for managing and resolving conflict, both in personal and business situations, around the world.

Avruch and Black believe that any process of intercultural conflict resolution can benefit tremendously from preliminary cultural analysis (p. 24). This analysis explains the underlying assumptions and understandings of conflict and conflict resolution held by all parties involved. As a result, each party gains some insight into the cultural meanings of the other.


All individuals have a lack of understanding and appreciate for some aspects of other cultures. Many have biases and prejudices toward specific cultures. Intercultural conflict management strategies aim to eliminate the fears and differences created when people from different groups are mixed together.

Fears usually include being judged, miscommunication, and patronizing or hurting others unintentionally; hopes are usually the possibility of dialogue, learning something new, developing friendships, and understanding different points-of-view. After doing this activity hundreds of times, I'm always amazed how similar the lists are. At any moment that we're dealing with people different from ourselves, the likelihood is that they carry a similar list of hopes and fears in their back pocket." (Lantieri, et al., 1996, p. 111)

According to Avruch and Black (Avruch, 1998, p. 55), when faced by an interaction that is not understood, people label others as "abnormal," "weird," or "wrong." This tendency contributes to one's individual level to prejudice. If this tendency is integrated into organizational structures, then prejudice increases within institutions. To prevent this, intercultural conflict management attempts to control the tendency to translate "different from me" into "less than me."

In conclusion, intercultural conflict is created when two people or groups with different cultural values, norms, identities, or political beliefs collide. As Avruch and Black put it, culture involves the social structuring of both the world outside of the self and the internal world. The concept refers to widely shared practices and too commonly held "assumptions and presuppositions that individuals and groups hold about the world" (Avruch and Black, 1993, p.28).

In many ways, intercultural conflict is not an interpersonal issue, as it is based on the beliefs, opinions and values of groups. As technology continues to advance and globalization increases, we will undoubtedly see more intercultural conflict. This demonstrates the need for better intercultural conflict management.

Works Cited

Adler, Peter S. Beyond Cultural Identity. (1998) Reflection on Multiculturalism. MA: Intercultural Press.

Augsburger, David. (1992) Conflict Mediation Across Cultures. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press.

Avruch, K. (1998). Culture & Conflict Resolution. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Avruch, Kevin and Peter Black. (1991). The Culture Question and Conflict Resolution. Peace and Change Vol. 16.

Cohen, Laurie P. (2 July 2001) "How United Technologies Lawyers Outmaneuvered GE." Wall Street Journal p. B1.

Delgado, Fernando. (1998) Mass-Mediated Communication and Intercultural Conflict. Flores. CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Lantieri, Linda, Patti, Janet. (1996). Waging Peace in Our Schools. New York, NY: Beacon Press.

Schneider, Susan C., Barsoux, Jean-Louis. (1997). Managing Across… [END OF PREVIEW]

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