American Framing vs. Chinese Framing (Negotiations and Conflict)

This week you learned that a key issue in negotiation is framing. Framing allows people to evaluate situations, which lead them to pursue or avoid ensuing actions. Framing helps us to focus and organize, while making sense and meaning out of the world around us.

Box 6.1 in your textbook, “Chinese Negotiation Frames”, identifies five concepts that someone attempting to negotiate in China should recognize. In which areas do you see similarities to our approach to framing? Where do you see differences?

Your paper should be a minimum of 2 pages (APA FORMAT), double-spaced in 12 pt. font. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Cite your sources.

Examples Below

American Frames:

  1. Substantive—what the conflict is about. Parties taking a substantive frame have a particular disposition about the key issue or concern in the conflict.
  2. Outcome—a party’s predisposition to achieving a specific result or outcome from the negotiation. To the degree that a negotiator has a specific, preferred outcome he or she wants to achieve, the dominant frame may be to focus all strategy, tactics, and communication toward getting that outcome. Parties with a strong outcome frame that emphasizes self-interest and downplays concern for the other party are more likely to engage primarily in distributive (win–lose or lose–lose) negotiations than in other types of negotiations.
  3. Aspiration—a predisposition toward satisfying a broader set of interests or needs in negotiation. Rather than focusing on a specific outcome, the negotiator tries to ensure that his or her basic interests, needs, and concerns are met. Parties who have a strong aspiration frame are more likely to be primarily engaged in integrative (win–win) negotiation than in other types.
  4. Process—how the parties will go about resolving their dispute. Negotiators who have a strong process frame are less concerned about the specific negotiation issues but more concerned about how the deliberations will proceed, or how the dispute should be managed. When the major concerns are largely procedural rather than substantive, process frames will be strong.
  5. Identity—how the parties define “who they are.” Parties are members of a number of different social groups—gender (male), religion (Roman Catholic), ethnic origin (Italian), place of birth (Brooklyn), current place of residence (London), and the like. These are only a few of the many categories people can use to construct an identity frame that defines them and distinguishes their selves from others.
  6. Characterization—how the parties define the other parties. A characterization frame can clearly be shaped by experience with the other party, by information about the other party’s history or reputation, or by the way the other party comes across early in the negotiation experience. In conflict, identity frames (of self) tend to be positive; characterization frames (of others) tend to be negative.
  7. Loss–gain—how the parties define the risk or reward associated with particular outcomes. For example, a buyer in a sales negotiation can view the transaction in loss terms (the monetary cost of the purchase) or in gain terms (the value of the item). This form of frame is discussed in more detail later in this chapter when we address cognitive biases.

Chinese Frames:

  • Social linkage. The Chinese believe that people should be viewed in the context of their larger social groups rather than as isolated individuals.
  • Harmony. Because people are inherently imbedded in their social network, peaceful coexistence is highly valued.
  • Roles. To maintain social harmony, people must understand and abide by the requirements of their role in the relationship network. Roles specify duties, power, and privileges while specifying where in the relational hierarchy an individual falls.
  • Reciprocal obligations. Each role specifies the obligations that people expect to fulfill and receive within the social network. These obligations persist over time, solidifying the relational network across generations.
  • Face. The value the Chinese place on saving “face” is central to their perception of social interaction. Face is lost if an individual acts in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her role or fails to fulfill reciprocal obligations. Face is so valued that the threat of losing it is the primary force that ensures fulfillment of obligations and, consequently, continuance of the relational hierarchy.

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