Cyril BAZIN (2006) CYRIL BAZIN Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the

Cyril BAZIN (2006)
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the
requirements of the degree of MA Management
September 2006
Derbyshire Business School
University of Derby
Cyril BAZIN (2006)
Derbyshire Business School
How to maximize negotiation with Chinese
from the French perspective
Cyril Bazin
( September, 2006)
Cyril BAZIN (2006)
The awareness of culture differences and the ability to “control” them could
represent a competitive advantage for international companies, and notably
when cross-negotiations have to occur.
The following report addresses culture differences and put these in the
context of Franco-Chinese negotiations.
As cultural differences could be detrimental to the well unfolding of crossnegotiations, the report aims to provide recommendations to French regarding
negotiations with Chinese in order to run such negotiations as best a way as
In that purpose, French and Chinese cultures were studied as well as their
respective theoretical negotiations styles.
Further, the outcomes of this theoretical research were verified in order to
give the best basis for the exploration of Franco-Chinese negotiations, which
then allowed to produce the sought recommendations.
The research was essentially qualitative with the use of two focus groups to
test the French and Chinese cultural aspects impacting on their negotiation
Further, one-to-one interviews were carried out to explore Franco-Chinese
negotiations in a cultural perspective.
Fourteen recommendations have been produced in order to avoid “cultural
mistakes” during three negotiation phases determined in the report named
pre-negotiation, negotiation and post-negotiation phases.
The most important concern the actual negotiation phase and especially
how the French are likely to communicate by interrupting, using body
language and different tone of voices, relishing debates and arguments.
Further the research put into perspective some theories on Chinese culture
and negotiation style suggesting a shift of Chinese culture.
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Contents page
Introduction ................................................................................................1
Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 2
1) Why is it important ..................................................................................................................... 3
2) International negotiation in which context ................................................................................. 3
3) Research aim and objectives ....................................................................................................... 4
Chapter One: Literature review.................................................................6
Culture ................................................................................................................................. 7
1) What is culture ............................................................................................................................ 7
1.1) Hall, E. ................................................................................................................................ 8
1.2) Lewis, R. ............................................................................................................................. 9
1.3) Hofstede, G. ...................................................................................................................... 10
1.4) Trompenaars, F. ................................................................................................................ 12
2) French and Chinese cultures ..................................................................................................... 13
2.1) French culture overview.................................................................................................... 14
2.2) Chinese culture overview .................................................................................................. 18
Negotiation ......................................................................................................................... 24
1) What is negotiation ................................................................................................................... 24
2) Negotiation phases and culture ................................................................................................. 25
2.1) Pre-negotiation stage ......................................................................................................... 26
2.2) Face-to-face interaction stage ........................................................................................... 27
2.3) Post-negotiation stage ....................................................................................................... 27
French and Chinese negotiation styles ............................................................................ 29
1) French negotiation style ............................................................................................................ 29
1.1) French pre-negotiation style.............................................................................................. 29
1.2) French negotiation style .................................................................................................... 29
1.3) French post-negotiation style ............................................................................................ 31
2) Chinese negotiation style .......................................................................................................... 32
2.1) Chinese pre-negotiation style ............................................................................................ 32
2.2) Chinese negotiation style .................................................................................................. 32
2.3) Chinese post-negotiation style .......................................................................................... 34
Summing up ....................................................................................................................... 34
Chapter Two: Methodology .....................................................................35
Research philosophy ......................................................................................................... 36
Research approach ............................................................................................................ 36
1) Deductive approach .................................................................................................................. 37
2) Inductive approach.................................................................................................................... 37
Research strategy .............................................................................................................. 37
1) Descriptive strategy .................................................................................................................. 38
2) Exploratory strategy.................................................................................................................. 38
Data collection method ..................................................................................................... 40
1) Semi-structured group interview/Focus group .......................................................................... 40
2) Structured observation .............................................................................................................. 41
3) Semi-structured one-to-one interview....................................................................................... 42
4) Aspects to consider ................................................................................................................... 43
Data analysis method ........................................................................................................ 44
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Summing up ....................................................................................................................... 45
Chapter Three: Findings and
Conclusions ........................................46
Focus groups ...................................................................................................................... 47
One-to-one interviews ....................................................................................................... 61
Summing up ....................................................................................................................... 68
Chapter Four: Conclusion, Recommendations and Discussion ...........69
Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 70
Franco-Chinese negotiation recommendations .............................................................. 70
1) Pre-negotiation phase................................................................................................................ 71
2) Negotiation phase ..................................................................................................................... 71
3) Post-negotiation phase .............................................................................................................. 72
Discussion........................................................................................................................... 73
1) Limitations ................................................................................................................................ 73
2) Phenomenon discovered ........................................................................................................... 74
References .......................................................................................................................... 75
Appendices ......................................................................................................................... 80
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What, why, which context and how ?
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Due to the increase of competition in domestic markets, and since
decades, globalisation is nowadays a major fact in the world economy. This
globalisation characterized and still characterizes an increase of business
relations between different countries.
Also, any relation, that is either business orientated or not, always occurs
with at least two parties. And from that fact everybody knows and experienced
by the past that harmony is not always in every relations. Contradictions,
oppositions of point of views, people inconsistencies and so on might occur
spoiling the relation and its issue.
Also, such issues concern business relations and even more international
business relations. Indeed, within the ambit of international business relations,
cultural dimension appears introducing different practices, ways of thinking,
feeling and behaving (Woo, 1999).
Also, this report deals with an important part of any business relations,
which is negotiation.
This is put into the international context by studying the impact of culture on
cross-cultural negotiations.
Cultural differences could hinder the realisation of a negotiation and then to
make business between two foreign companies, which is not the aim in
international business.
Given that, it is obvious that international companies have to be aware of
those potential cultural issues when negotiating with foreign companies. And,
international companies have to try to avoid them by “reconciling”
(Trompenaars, Woolliams, 2003) cultural differences aiming to know the
other(s), what is allowed and what is not and then to act accordingly.
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1) Why is it important
Cultural differences awareness is helpful for international companies in
order to take the best advantage of international business. In the report
context, it almost ensures to know how to approach and negotiate with
foreigners and then to build strong and durable international business
As said previously, if globalisation developed, it is mainly due to
competition increase in domestic markets. Also, in the international markets
what could differentiate foreign competition? And more precisely in the context
of international negotiation, what could make a foreign company more likely to
get an agreement with a key foreign partner than another?
Excluding the business interests, the answer is the ability to “culturally
adapt itself” to the foreign negotiator. This is a key of international business
Therefore international companies should spend time and resources about
cross-cultural business behaviour, negotiation across cultures and so on.
Achieving that, international companies would develop a unique intangible
resource about “culture knowledge”. According to Johnson, Scholes and
Whittington (2005) unique resources “are resources which critically underpin
competitive advantage and that competitors cannot imitate or obtain”.
Also, this culture knowledge would definitely represent a source of
international competitive advantage, as it would allow to negotiate more easily
and to almost ensure to get the needed agreements with the suitable foreign
2) International negotiation in which context
It is now said that the report discusses cross-cultural negotiation. However,
it would be too broad and need to be narrowed down. Besides, “there is no
unalterable formula for reconciling cultural differences but that every case
should be seen on its own merits” (Brooks, 2003).
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Also, it is interesting to turn the topic around the most important fact of the
ongoing globalisation, that is to say China. Indeed, the interest for
international companies is to go abroad in the purpose to make profit.
Also, Western experts predict China is to become one of the world's largest
economies in the coming decade (Zhang, 2004). Thus, China represents a
huge opportunity for business.
Further, the report studies the cross-cultural negotiation between France
and China. First because models of the Chinese negotiating process have
been produced but primarily from the US (Stark, et al. 2005). Second,
because of own personal author's interests such as planning to go to leave to
China in the later years. Third and given that France has already got good
politic and economic relations with China, the outcome of this report would
represent an interesting and beneficial contribution for French companies
aiming to deal with China.
3) Research aim and objectives
Thus the main interest of the report is to evaluate the impact of national
cultures on negotiation behaviour and to demonstrate the importance to
consider this in conducting international business.
Put in the context of cross-cultural negotiation between France and China,
the overall aim of the research is:
To provide French negotiators with recommendations about
negotiating with Chinese ones
To achieve this aim, some objectives have been set:
To identify the cultures of France and China in order to create
awareness about where their respective negotiation styles are shaped from,
To determine both French and Chinese negotiation styles so as to get
the insight on the potential cultural inhibitors,
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To evaluate the veracity of French and Chinese cultural aspects
impacting on their negotiation styles,
To explore Franco-Chinese negotiations and identify potential cultural
To provide recommendations to French negotiators so as to overcome
these cultural inhibitors of Franco-Chinese negotiations (aim of the research).
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Chapter One: Literature review
What are the link and the consequences?
In that part, culture and negotiation are addressed and confronted in
order to raise the concept of negotiation in the culture context.
It defines both concept of Culture and Negotiation, gives an awareness of
both French and Chinese cultures and determine their respective
theoretical negotiation styles.
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This part aims to give the required awareness about culture. It shows in
which extent people are influenced by it in their everyday life, behaviour,
thinking etc.
Further the section gives an overview of both French and Chinese cultures.
This is compulsory so as to be able to put negotiation in the context of both
French and Chinese cultures.
Culture and then both French and Chinese cultures are studied according
to main theories on the subject. Works of Hofstede, Hall and Hall,
Trompenaars and Lewis are addressed.
1) What is culture
Culture has got many definitions. Those vary according to the point of view
it is considered from.
Culture can be “applied” into several ways and subjects; it can be
considered into a sociological perspective or an organizational one and so on.
However and despite the different “applications” and subjects in which
culture is fundable, the “nature” of what is culture is not distorted and can be
It is commonly accepted that culture is different in each country, determines
behaviors of people, thinking processes, ways to see the world “influencing
most aspects of individual behavior including the cognitive framework”
(Brooks, 2003).
Phatak, Bhagat, Kashlak (2005) insist on “culture is to a society what
memory is to an individual”. This endorses that a different and unique culture
is present in each countries.
Paying attention to Hofstede’s (1984) definition of culture, culture is seen
as a program of the mind shared and transmitted by all the collectivity (society
and thus country) members.
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Also, the notion of “collective program of the mind” determines and
suggests the fact that members of a same society are likely to behave, see,
feel and/or think in the same manner when confronted at a same situation.
Brooks (2003) states these similitudes are the result of the set of values
and taken-for-granted assumptions deeply embedded in every culture.
Further he suggests values give people a sense of “what is right and wrong
and what is good and bad” influencing again their manner to behave, see
situations, feel and/or think.
In the aim to make it clearer, these four aspects influenced by culture will
be summed up by the designation of “people’s minds”.
It is shown that culture is a crucial determinant of people’s minds. Also,
many further definitions and researches would endorse that fact. However the
deepening of it would be out of the ambit of the report.
First, the objective is to identify both French and Chinese cultures. These
are addressed (in the “1.2 part”) according to different theories on the subject.
The following sections present these theories and introduce the identification
of French and Chinese cultures part.
1.1) Hall, E.
Hall’s work considers culture as a matter of contexts. Each society’s
individuals would respond differently to the contexts. Context refers to cues
and other information present in a given information (Phatak, Bhagat,
Kashlak, 2005).
With the notion of contexts, he notably considered the different ways of
communicating in cultures and stated “culture is communication” (1976).
From that perspective, Hall and Hall (1990) distinguished between highcontext and low-context cultures.
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High-context cultures
Those depend heavily on the external environment, situation and nonverbal behavior in creating and interpreting communications (Mead, 1998).
Hall (1976) specifies that some languages value an indirect style of
communication and the ability to understand this. This is the case of the
Chinese language.
Low-context cultures
The external environment and then the attention paid to it is less important.
Mead (1998) states from the work of Hall and Hall (1990) that non-verbal
behavior is often ignored, and so explicit information is valued. Therefore,
direct and outspoken communication is used in these cultures.
Mead (1998) emphasizes that Hall’s model is useful as to understand
notably how members of different cultures negotiate as it relates to
1.2) Lewis, R.
Lewis’ work has to be linked to Hall’s one. Hall focused on the low/high
context cultures scale but addressed what Lewis studied in more detail. Lewis
(1992) classified cultures through a monochronic and polychronic scale.
This indicates the relation people have with time notably when doing
Monochronic time
Monochronic cultures act in a focused manner. They concentrate and do
one thing at a time. Time-scales, deadlines, schedules are taken seriously.
Polychronic time
Polychronic cultures act flexibly. They are often involved in many things at
once. They often act in an unplanned and opportunistic manner.
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According to Hall and Hall (1990), monochronic people are associated to
low-context cultures whereas polychronic people are associated to highcontext cultures.
1.3) Hofstede, G.
As addressed before, Hofstede (1984) defines culture as “the collective
programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human
group to another”.
Hofstede considered cross-cultural analysis through four main dimensions
of culture. They are referred to as Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance,
Individualism and Masculinity.
Power distance (PD)
Power distance represents the social distance between people of different
rank or position (Brooks, 2003).
Mead (1998) puts this dimension more into a workplace perspective
describing the distance between the different levels of a hierarchy.
Also, Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak (2005) consider it as the extent of
acceptance by less powerful members of the unequal distribution of power
within organizations.
A high PD ranking indicates an acceptance of inequality of power and
wealth within the society/organization.
(Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International A, 2003).
Uncertainty avoidance (UA)
Uncertainty avoidance is a measure of people’s attitudes towards ambiguity
(Brooks, 2003).
It represents the need more or less important to avoid uncertainty about the
future (Mead, 1998).
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A high UA ranking indicates an anxiety towards uncertainty. Laws, rules
and regulations are developed to avoid such uncertainty within the
A low UA ranking indicated tolerance about uncertainty and ambiguity
within the society/organization. Change is more likely to be accepted.
(Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International A, 2003).
Individualism (IDV)
Individualism represents the extent an individual relies on a group or takes
individual initiatives and decisions (Brooks, 2003), which determine the
relations an individual has with his/her fellows (Mead, 1998).
A high IDV ranking indicates a reinforcement of individual achievement
within the society/organization.
A low IDV ranking typifies more collectivist societies/organizations.
Responsibility is shared and individual decisions are less likely to occur.
(Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International A, 2003).
Masculinity (MAS)
Masculinity variable introduces the degree of discrimination especially
against women. Further, it reflects the extent to which “masculine” values are
considered such as assertiveness, competitiveness and results orientation
(Brooks, 2003). It then divides roles and values in society (Mead, 1998).
A high MAS ranking shows a gender differentiation with a male domination
of the society and power structure.
A low MAS ranking indicates a less important attachment to masculine
values with lower gender discrimination within the society/organization. Also,
equality and then collectivism are likely to be fostered on.
(Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International A, 2003).
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France and China have scored as following:
P. Distance
U. Avoidance Individualism
68 (H)
86 (H)
71 (H)
43 (M)
80 (H)
60 (H)
20 (L)
50 (M)
From Brooks (2003) and Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak (2005)
1.4) Trompenaars, F.
Trompenaars (1993) stated “the essence of culture is not what is visible on
the surface. It is the shared ways groups of people understand and interpret
the world”. He considered culture in the business context and thus, his work
(1993) focused on how cultural differences notably affect the process of doing
He identified seven dimension of culture, namely:
First: Universalism v. particularism
An universalistic culture tends to prefer rules, favouring the rational and
logical approach thinking that universal rules are applicable everywhere.
Whereas the particularism approach suggests a culture give much more
importance to each situation, case and foster relationships.
Second: Collectivism v. individualism
This dimension relates about the same fact as the Hofstede’s one (see
Third: Affective v. neutral cultures
This dimension indicates how much emotional behavior is found in culture
given that in affective cultures emotions are openly shared and communicated
whereas in neutral cultures these emotions are more kept for oneself.
Fourth: Specific v. diffuse cultures
In specific cultures, people are likely to separate both private and
professional life. In diffuse cultures the work life influences the life outside of it.
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Fifth: Achieving v. ascribing status
This dimension relates to the notion of status and how it is obtained. In
achievement cultures, status is obtained or achieved according to
competence (skills, knowledge, talent) whereas in ascription cultures, it is
often obtained because of the belonging to groups or characteristics such
age, gender or education.
Sixth: Time as sequence v. time as synchronization
How time is considered and seen vary according to cultures. In sequential
cultures, time is linear and divided into segments with the importance of
schedules. Whereas in synchronic cultures, time is more circular and different
activities could be handled at the same time.
Seventh: Inner directed v. outer directed
It relates on how people see what happens to them. Inner directed culture
would think they have control on what they are doing and happens to them
whereas outer directed culture people do not control situations. Trompenaars
related that to the relation with nature, whether people in certain culture seek
to control it and to control events; or not and to live in harmony with it.
Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak (2005) precise the five first dimensions
concern how people relate to each other. The sixth deals with time indicating
whether past, present and/or future are stressed on in the culture. The
seventh indicates the relation the culture and the people have with the nature,
which implies on internal or external orientation.
2) French and Chinese cultures
It is now obvious that culture is a broad subject, which can be considered
from many points of views. However, different points of views do not mean
totally different and theories are sometimes about the same facts that lead
those to be often complementary.
Therefore in that part, both French and Chinese cultures are identified and
compared according to the theories and, when possible, in an interrelated way
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to give a better understanding. However the objective is not to fully detail both
cultures but to create an awareness of those in the reader’s mind so as to
make him/her know in which cultural context both negotiation styles are
2.1) French culture overview
According to Hall’s framework, France is a high-context culture. Hall’s
concepts of high and low context have much to do with how these cultures
tend to communicate which appears to be important when considering
negotiation style.
French are expressive people. Hall and Hall (1990) stated they use their
whole body to communicate. Gestures, smiles, eyebrows and shoulders
raising form part of their communication. This has to be linked to
Trompenaars’s work (1993) and his third culture dimension (affective vs.
neutral cultures).
Trompenaars defines France as an affective culture which reveal thoughts
and feelings verbally and non-verbally. French people relish conversations
and can talk at length (Newson-Ballé, 1996). They share emotions, which flow
easily making communication “lively”. Those are distinguished by tone
changes in the voice and interruptions by the interlocutors, which form the
characteristics of Latin languages according to Trompenaars (1993).
Also and according to their high-context culture, French have a certain
manner to sustain conversations. Indeed, they like some mystery and leaving
some things to the imagination in these.
As they often talk around the point, the listener needs to be intuitive so as
to find out the rest of the message, which could be difficult for a low-context
one who expects to get all the needed information via spoken words. Thus for
the French “what matters is the overall effect, not the details” (Hall and Hall,
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According to Lewis (1992), France is a polychronic culture. This has a
direct link with the sixth Trompenaars’s dimension and defines France as a
synchronic culture. Both determine that French do several things at once and
time “restrictions” such as schedules, appointments and deadlines are not
taken very seriously which lead them to often miss promptness and to change
plans at the last minute.
However there is a nuance emerging from Trompenaars (1993). Indeed, he
stated that culture concerned with synchronic time are “more we-orientated”
indicating a tendency for community well being or in other terms for
By referencing to Hofstede (1984), France is a highly individualistic country
scoring at 71 on that scale. This is endorsed by the fact that French people
prefer individuality to conformity and are not always caring about other
people’s needs and requirements (Hall and Hall, 1990).
This high individualism could explain the cautiousness of French people
towards the others. Indeed, Hall and Hall (1990) determined that they tend to
be pessimist and suspicious towards everyone leading to distrust anyone who
is not known personally.
More globally that tendency to be distrusting might indicate a fear of the
unknown where the unknown is seen as risky. Newson-Ballé (1996) stated
French always try to minimize risk. It leads to Hofstede’s framework and its
uncertainty avoidance criteria. And indeed, France scores high with 83 on the
uncertainty avoidance scale.
Also, this indicates another tendency of the French people to be attached
to their traditions and reluctant to any change, to be extremely conservative
(Newson-Ballé, 1996).
Regarding from the high-context culture point of view, Mead (1998)
confirms that cultural patterns are ingrained and slow to change. Furthermore,
he specified that insiders and outsiders are likely to be distinguished
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considering outsiders to be non-members of the family, group, organization
and then foreigners.
In a certain extent it goes with the fourth Trompenaars (1993) dimension
(specific vs. diffuse culture). According to him, France is a specific culture
where French people totally separate both professional and private life. For a
business partner, to ask personal questions about i.e. family to another is
seen as very impolite, and professional partners are just seen as professional
ones (Hall and Hall, 1990).
respectively low and high-context ones. Thus and following Trompenaars’s
argument, France would be a low-context culture. Trompenaars also specifies
diffuse and then high-context cultures are more likely to “circle around” before
to get to the point when communicating which agree with Hall and Hall’s
description of the French communication style (see previously).
Thus, there is another subtlety of French culture. But this nuance can and
has to be relativized as Mead (1998) states countries show high and lowcontext cultural behavior at different points. Therefore, French people
communicate as diffuse and high-context cultures are likely to and behave as
specific and low-context cultures would towards both business and private life.
Another “contradiction” is noticeable as Brooks (2003) indicates diffuse
cultures are likely to be characterized by a high power distance. Being a
specific culture concerning private and work life, France should score low in
power distance according to Brooks’ statement. However and according to
Hofstede (1984), France scores relatively high on the power distance scale
with 63. But this tends to be understandable and explainable precisely by the
specific cultural aspect of France.
Indeed, this aspect makes the power distance criteria only applicable in the
specific considered group. For example, the authority of the boss due to the
power distance in the business context shift to be nil or at least reduced
outside of it.
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France is indeed characterized by a high power distance. Hierarchical
structures are very well defined in France (Newson-Ballé, 1996).
At the work place, authority is highly centralized around the boss (Hall and
Hall, 1990). Lawrence and Edwards (2000) define the French work place
highly hierarchical where managers rely on authority to give directions or to
One Trompenaars’ culture dimension takes great importance when
considering business culture. It is the universalism and particularism one.
Indeed, the tendency to standardize by rules (universalism) any business
situation and partner might be shocking to people who foster on relationship in
business and perceive each situation differently (particularism).
France mixes both universalism and particularism cultural aspects.
From Trompenaars’ study, a light tendency towards universalism seems to
characterize France. Universalist cultures are likely to value rational and
logical thinking (Brooks, 2003). Also, logic and rational thinking is well
implemented in French education and training (Hall and Hall, 1990;
Communal and Senior, 1999). This endorses the fact France is a universalist
However, how people relate is important for French people (Hall and Hall,
1990) and their polychronic and synchronic cultural aspect make them to be
not very concerned about procedures and then rules. This reflects the
definition of the particularism (Brooks, 2003).
The overall cultural aspects of France have been now clarified and give a
“feeling” of the French negotiation style, which follows from it.
To sum up, French culture tallies with the following and different theoretical
High-context and affective culture,
polychronic and synchronic culture,
individualist culture with high uncertainty avoidance,
mix of specific and diffuse culture with high power distance,
mix of universalist and particularist culture.
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2.2) Chinese culture overview
Chinese culture, philosophy and psychology have been greatly influenced
by Confucianism and Taoism (Fang, 1999; Tang, 1991). Confucianism deals
with human relationships and Taoism with life in harmony with nature (Fang,
Both are fundamental philosophical traditions that have shaped Chinese
culture for 2500 years.
Therefore, Chinese culture cannot be studied without considering those.
However, main theories used before are not going to be dropped as both
“philosophical traditions” value certain behavior and ways of thinking which
match the theories.
Also, it could have been possible to just use the theories and apply them to
China as it has been done with France, but it would miss to give an
understanding of Chinese psychology.
Many concepts and values are attached to Confucianism and Taoism.
An important concept of Taoism is Yin Yang. Briefly and according to Fang
(1999), Yin denotes female elements such as the moon, water, dark, soft and
so on whereas Yang represents male elements such as the sun, fire, bright,
strong and so on.
Yin Yang indicates the dualism of everything, Yin and Yang are both
necessary and complementary to create, maintain and develop “universal
events”. This leads to the concept of unity and harmony.
Linked to that, Confucianism value the avoidance of conflict and seeking of
harmony by promoting group-based systems of social relations (Fang,1999).
According to Hofstede (1984), it is noticeable that China scores low (20) in
individualism. Indeed, in Chinese’s minds relationships with others, respect of
them, reciprocity are the type of concept highly developed and ingrained.
Interpersonal relationships are distinguished by some “rules”. There is a
deep notion of reciprocity that can lead one Chinese to act in a very good way
or bad way according to what another individual does towards him.
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Relationships involve reciprocal obligations (Fang, 1999), which are
defined by the Chinese term Guanxi. This term involves to consider any
relationships as “the establishment of a connection between two independent
individuals to enable a bilateral flow of personal or social transactions” (Yeung
and Tung, 1996).
The notion of reciprocal obligations suggests that each individual in any
relationships involves his self in order to respond to the potential demand of
the other. Also, it implies to develop trust with the person.
Confucianism conceives a certain value of moral, which is mainly based on
trust (Tu, 1984). “Interpersonal trust” (Fang, 1999) or “individual trust”
(Jansson, 1994) is sought, fostered and compulsory before lasting any
It is now obvious that relationships are very important and fostered by
Chinese people and that tendency indicates the particularism aspect of
Chinese culture defined by Trompenaars (1993). Brooks (1993) states
particularist cultures are based on people relationships, and cites the term
Guanxi as an example.
Another proof of the Chinese particularism is the reduction of rules that is
laws. Indeed, Confucianism refutes the usefulness of laws to rule a group or
society. In Chinese culture, law equals to notably a lack of trust (Fang, 1999)
which is as said previously very important.
Thus and in order to avoid untrustworthy, disrespectful behaviors and so
on, Confucianism ingrains a moral notion of shame into people’s minds. As
Fang (1999) states, Chinese people’s behavior are regulated by moral
Those moral mechanisms and sense of shame match with the concept of
face. Face can be defined as the image people owns (Goffman, 1955).
Hofstede and Bond (1988) defined it as “one’s dignity, self-respect and
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So, Face is important to Chinese people as it represents their “value” in the
society and then people avoid to lose face but also to make others lose face.
Chinese concept of Face is included in the Confucian notions of shame and
harmony (Fang, 1999). Again, Hofstede and Bond (1988) precise harmony is
found in the maintenance of individual’s face.
Thus, as no one wants both to lose face and to make people lose face, it
tends to create harmony.
According to Hall and Hall, China is a high-context culture. It is indeed a
high-context culture and a lot more than France is. This high-context is related
to some extent to the concept of face.
Fang (1999) specifies, “Chinese meanings do not exist in coded and
transmitted messages” which perfectly agree with the theory of high-context
culture with shared code communication, interpretation of non-verbal
communication etc.
The notion of not losing face and not making others lose face can justify
that high-context communication. Indeed, Chinese people value respect and
dignity towards others; thus it is predictable that people will not offend others
through aggressive behavior and or speeches. Tan (1990) stated Chinese
people have difficulty with frank dialogues except with trusted friends.
This willing to respect the interlocutor and the discussion is reflected by the
verbal communication of Chinese. Interlocutors listen to each other
respectfully waiting the speaker to finish. Silence between talks often occurs
(Trompenaars, 1993) and represents both a time of considering on what has
just been said and respect. Moreover, tone of voice tends to be monotonous
and self-controlled showing again respect (Trompenaars, 1993).
Self-control is important in Confucianism as a “Confucian gentleman is
patient, maintaining self-control whatever the situation” (Fang, 1999). Selfcontrol and monotonous verbal communication are main characteristics of
neutral cultures.
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As mentioned previously, thoughts and emotions are not openly revealed,
which increase again the high-context cultural aspect of Chinese.
Keeping emotions for one self and not express them have even a medical
reason. In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (as quoted in
Veith, 1972) is stated that emotions of joy and anger associated to cold and
heat are respectively injurious for the spirit (two former) and for the body (two
latter). To avoid this, harmony is to be found referring to the concept of Yin
That neutrality of expression and communication has to be referred to a
second predominating Taoist concept called Wu Wei. Through that concept,
calmness of mind is nurtured which “empowers one to swallow all the
confronting forces and then become their master in the end” (Fang, 1999).
It refers again to harmony avoiding conflict and self-control. Wu Wei means
“non-action”, “doing nothing”. However, it has to be considered with the
“calmness of mind” valued by it and as Fang (1999) defines it, Wu Wei means
acting/doing things in a wise manner rather than “inaction”.
According to Hofstede (1984), China has a high power distance scoring 80.
It indicates an important inequality of power between members of the society
or organization. It suggests that hierarchy is present and accepted by less
powerful members.
It is endorsed by the Confucianism value of respect for Age and Hierarchy.
Wu (1996) determined that notably training for obedience and acceptance of
social obligations characterized Chinese socialization. Lewis (1999) stated
“parents, teachers, bosses, all must be obeyed” which order relationships and
foster hierarchy.
In Chinese culture, older people have to be respected and listened by the
younger for their knowledge and experience. Putting this directly in the
business context, Fang (1999) states that young Chinese people are not
enough experienced and capable of doing good business; he cites a Chinese
proverb saying “No beard, no business”.
Fang (1999) adapting the words of Confucius, states people with “white
hair” must get “honored places”.
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Therefore, and according to Trompenaars (1993) it is understandable to
notice that China is an ascriptive culture mainly based on age, which means
knowledge and experience.
Even in the language words exist to distinguish an older to a younger
uncle, brother and so on.
According to Trompenaars (1993), China is a diffuse culture. This cultural
aspect is not directly depicted by a value of Confucianism or Taoism but could
be “guessed” anyway by the value of respect for age and hierarchy.
Indeed, in the business context older people represent knowledge and
experience but outside of it, the association of age with knowledge and
experience endures and then older bosses in the organization still represent
somebody to respect.
It appears that Harmony and its seeking is an important factor in everyday
life of Chinese people by mainly impacting on relationships to regulate society.
Thus it is not surprising to understand why Trompenaars (1993) defined China
as an outer-directed culture.
According to Trompenaars (1993), outer-directed cultures are willing to
compromise, keep the peace and focus on “other”. This corroborates what
has been said previously about seeking of harmony and avoidance of conflict,
and both collectivist and particularist cultural aspects of China.
Finally but not least, Hofstede (1984) found a tendency for uncertainty
avoidance. China scores 60 on that scale. That reluctance for the unknown
can be perceive as a “security” to preserve notably harmony. Indeed, any new
information, person, change can be a factor of modifying the equilibrium. This
is certainly why Chinese people are so cautious, calm in discussion.
Therefore it is expectable for a foreigner to be carefully considered.
The overall cultural aspects of China have been now clarified and give a
“feeling” of the Chinese negotiation style, which follows from it.
To sum up, Chinese culture tallies with the following and different
theoretical concepts:
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Collectivist culture and particularist culture
medium uncertainty avoidance which seeks harmony in everything,
high-context and neutral culture,
ascriptive culture with a deep notion of respect for age,
diffuse culture with high power distance,
outer-directed culture.
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Culture is now defined and determined concerning both France and China.
The next step is now to identify the cultural aspects of negotiation concerning
the two countries in order to specify their negotiation styles.
In that purpose it is first necessary to explain what negotiation is.
1) What is negotiation
Negotiation occurs when common interests and issues of conflict exist (Iké,
1968). Those two elements give rise to a process occurring between at least
two parties, which leads to a single decision of mutual interest (Zartman,
1978). Wall and Blum (1991) see negotiation as the process through which at
least two parties exchange products or services by reaching an agreement
upon the exchange rate for them.
Thus, it appears that negotiation is an interactive process between
conflicting parties which have both interests to get from the other, and aiming
to find a good arrangement minimizing concession made to the other and
maximizing getting from the other.
The question is until which extent each party wants to minimize
concessions and maximize gains. This leads to the agreement of the theories
to classify negotiation into two perspectives.
The first category is named Game theory (Fang, 1999), or Forcing
negotiation (Lin, Miller, 2003) or again Distributive negotiation (Ma, 2006).
This first perspective suggests to consider negotiation through a Win-Lose
approach aiming to make the other party lose more and then to gain more
from it.
That approach indicates a tendency to use a certain negotiation strategy
that all agree to call competition. Fang (1999) defines that strategy by a will to
persuade the other party to get it to give up and finally accept a decision,
which is not the best for it.
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That negotiation process often leads to contentious behaviours (Ma, 2006)
as bargaining continuously occur with the use of what Fisher and Ury (1981)
calls tricky tactics and tricky bargaining. It suggests the use of phony facts,
dubious intentions or the intention to put the other negotiator in stressful
situations by refusing to negotiate or trying to rush decision by a “take it or
leave it” position.
The second category is named Social exchange theory (Fang, 1999), or
Compromising negotiation (Lin, Miller, 2003) or again Integrative negotiation
(Ma, 2006). This second perspective suggests to consider negotiation through
a Win-Win approach aiming to reach an agreed and fair decision for each
negotiating parties. In that case, no party is more advantaged than the other.
That approach relates to the use of a negotiation strategy generally called
cooperation. Putnam (1990) sees that strategy as an aim “to reconcile the
interests of both parties, reach joints benefits, or attain win-win goals”.
That negotiation process leads to a more collaborative negotiation
unfolding than a conflicting one by focusing on interests and not positions and
seeking mutual gains (Fang, 1999).
Those different approaches to negotiation and the likeliness to use one
more than the other is definitely due to and influenced by Culture. However, it
might be a little bit limited to consider negotiation and the impact of culture just
by drawing up the face-to-face interaction between the two parties.
That is why in the following section, negotiation phases or steps are going
to be addressed and illustrated by the impact of culture on each.
Also, it has to be specified that each stages are important and have
impacts on the negotiation outcome.
2) Negotiation phases and culture
Through theories, many negotiation phases can be found.
Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak (2005) identify five stages, which are
preparation, relationship building, information exchange, persuasion, and
finally making concessions and reaching agreement.
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Graham and Sano (1984) distinguished two stages that are first non-task
related interactions and second task-related interactions.
Holmes (1992) talks about three stages starting by an initiation stage,
carrying on then by a problem solving stage and ending by a resolution stage.
Therefore, negotiation could be dissected and divided into multiple stages
but Holmes’ scheme seems the easier to use and to understand with a
“before, a during and an after negotiation”. In that sense, Fang (1999)
determined also three stages that he made even easier to understand calling
them pre-negotiation, face-to-face interaction and post-negotiation stages.
This “summarization” of negotiation phases is going to be now used and
addressed within the context of culture and its impact on those.
Also it is going to smoothly introduce the identification of French and
Chinese negotiation styles.
2.1) Pre-negotiation stage
This stage considers all the interactions both parties have together before
running the actual negotiation that is all the interactions “excluding the
exchange of information regarding the business” (Simintiras and Thomas,
It represents moments during both parties “get to know the other”.
Conversations, dinners, exchange of business cards are included in that
phase (Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak, 2005). Fang (1999) describes that stage
as “the establishment of a rapport by getting to know one another socially
often in an informal manner”.
According to cultures, that stage could last a more or less long time
because of a more or less important signification. Thus, for cultures, which
foster on relationships and people, this stage represents an important moment
and should last a longer time than for deal-focused cultures.
Also it has been said in the previous parts, that particularist and collectivist
cultures were fostering on relationships. It is then understandable that stage is
important for such cultures, which is especially the case of China.
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Mead (1998) determined that different cultures are more or less willing to
trust the other side in a negotiation. Also, this is crucial as if the “suspicious
negotiator” does not get a feeling of trust or does not have time to get it, both
the unfolding and outcome of the negotiation might be negative. This has to
be linked to the level of uncertainty avoidance developed by Hofstede (1984).
This concerns both France and China.
2.2) Face-to-face interaction stage
That stage deals with what has been described previously with both
negotiation perspectives.
Culture impacts on that stage especially again determining a deal-focused
orientation or relationships-focused orientation.
The former orientation defines logically the first perspective and the WinLose approach. The latter orientation relates to the second perspective and
the Win-Win approach.
Depending on what the negotiator value more through his culture, that
stage might last again a different length. Deal-focused negotiators are likely to
rush the negotiation whereas Chinese negotiators valuing trust, patience and
relationship are likely to make it last.
It is a question whether the relationship is seen as instrumental to make
business or not.
The part of particularism and the uncertainty avoidance characterizing the
French culture let speculate to be the main reasons of the similarity with the
Chinese concerning the pre-negotiation stage and the need to spend time for
the relationship building. However, French tend to be more deal-focused
during the actual negotiation interaction stage, which could be explained by
the universalist aspect defining also French culture.
2.3) Post-negotiation stage
It relates to what the agreement means and thus the form of it, which can
be a “gentleman’s agreement” or a formal “Western-style contract” (Simintiras
and Thomas, 1998).
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Is it a binding agreement which settle up conditions, obligations for both
parties or is it more a guideline, which is flexible and might be the subject to
modifications and fittings afterwards?
Those divergent visions are the effect of culture and again the relationship
or deal orientation. It depends on whether the negotiation and then the
communication between parties or rather as a short-term mean to make
business, which suggests that after the agreement, no or few communication
occurs while each party does what they are supposed to.
Obviously, the main impact that culture has on negotiation is to condition
the negotiator to be deal or relationship-focused. The likeliness to be more
one than the other determine how one relates with the other and the
importance given to that relation (pre-negotiation stage), how one sees the
actual negotiation interaction and the outcome expected of it; Win-Lose or
Win-Win (face-to-face interaction stage), and finally how one perceives the
agreement and how one considers the future business relationship with the
other (post-negotiation stage).
However, many other cultural aspects have impacts on the negotiation
stages and thus the outcomes. Those are notably the importance given to
status (age, rank etc), the neutral or affective cultural aspect or also, as
negotiation is done through communication, the high or low-context aspect of
the culture.
This is through those aspects and others mentioned in the culture section
that both French and Chinese negotiation styles are going to be identified.
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French and Chinese negotiation styles
Both French and Chinese negotiation styles are now going to be defined.
These are based on the findings on the French and Chinese culture and thus
have to be linked to them when reading. Some further literature is used in
order to endorse the findings.
Both negotiation styles are addressed according to the three phases
developed previously.
1) French negotiation style
1.1) French pre-negotiation style
French are a bit suspicious towards people they do not know and have the
need to know the other.
This socialization is most done in restaurants. Business lunches are the
French favorite time to do it and could last between two or three hours with
plenty of courses. 70% of the French consider business lunches as an
important part of doing business (Gesteland, 1996). Those are moments
where business talks are banished at least until the dessert.
This stage is compulsory before addressing business, however, even if
they need to know a good deal about the other (Gesteland, 1996), they need
more to get a feeling about the other rather than to know his life. Thus, talking
about private life and notably family is avoided.
Therefore, that stage is likely to last a relative long time until they establish
some connections.
1.2) French negotiation style
- Win-Win approach
Their objectives are long-term and seek firm personal relationships (Lewis,
1999). Being relationship-focused in the previous stage, French tend to be
more deal-focused while negotiating (Gesteland, 1996).
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- Greetings
Moderate handshakes are the common, and always done, greeting in
business context. A steady eye contact is given during the handshake. Those
occur both at the start and end of the meeting (Gesteland, 1996).
They are more formal than outside the business life and use last names
(Lewis, 1999).
- Communication
They have a high-context communication style and are not likely to
negotiate straight to the point (Gesteland, 1996). They favor subtle and
indirect language.
Also, small talks occur beforehand but less than in some other cultures.
They are affective and thus expressive (Gesteland, 1996; Lewis, 1999) in
their communication as Latins are. Argument is relished as a form of
entertainment (Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International B, 2003).
Therefore, conflicting debates often occur in business meetings with use of
body language.
- Logical thinking
They apply reason and logic to negotiations (Acuff, 1997). Verbal
confrontations frequently punctuate negotiations interactions on the basis of
“illogical” arguments. (Gesteland, 1996; Lewis, 1999).
It could appear as a high bargaining strategy aiming to put down the
illogical arguments of the other, however they are polite restating their position
and it is more a way for the French to make the deal totally clear (Lewis,
1999), to be sure of having cover everything and to avoid bad surprises
- Negotiation team and decision-making
They are conservative and thus any deal proposition implying important
change(s) takes time to be considered by the French through their logical
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This logical thinking leads them to consider any aspect and decisions are
then made after much deliberation often outside the meeting.
The negotiation team is likely to be argumentative and cautious as they are
reserved about their intentions (Acuff, 1997). They seek to know first what the
other wants, make many assumptions and hypothesis and then reveal late in
negotiation their intentions (Lewis, 1999).
They collect all the information to make up their logical understanding of
the deal.
Therefore, negotiation stage might last a relative long time until they have
weighed up the pros and cons and applied logic on everything (Gesteland,
- Other aspects
They are hierarchical and status conscious on the basis of level of
education and indirectly of the family background (Gesteland, 1996). Senior
managers are likely to have been highly educated (notably in one of the
Grandes Ecoles) and to be the ones making the decisions in the negotiation
They tend to be more punctual in the business context (Acuff, 1997).
They can be a bit touchy against disrespectful behavior or the nonobservation of protocol, but question of “honour” is not a big deal and to lose
face is not worrying (Lewis, 1999).
1.3) French post-negotiation style
Oral agreement after negotiation has sense for the French due to the highcontext of their culture. However, written contracts are definitely binding both
companies (Acuff, 1997).
Further, the contract binds the two companies both in terms of business
relations and in terms of obligations.
A wish for a long and fruitful relationship is often the object of a toast after a
completed negotiation (Acuff, 1997) as they aim long-term benefits.
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2) Chinese negotiation style
2.1) Chinese pre-negotiation style
As Fang (1999) states “Chinese do business with you, not with your
company”, Chinese need to spend a lot of time to get to know the potential
future business partner.
The more they know their counterpart the more they are willing to do
business and then they are likely to ask personal questions about notably
family and personal hobbies (Acuff, 1997).
They treat very graciously foreign negotiators with evening dinner parties at
hotels or restaurants (Acuff, 1997) in order to socialize and establish that
Beyond the business relation they seek a personal one, which might lead to
friendship they base on trust and mutual connections. A strong relationship is
often indispensable for the implementation of a contract (Chen, 2004).
Therefore, that stage can last a very long time until the establishment of a
personal trustworthy relationship.
2.2) Chinese negotiation style
- Win-Win approach
The Chinese value harmony, collaboration and in negotiation they aim to
reach a compromised agreement (Chen, 2004; Gesteland, 1996).
- Greetings
Handshakes are not the only one greeting; besides a nod or slight bow are
more common forms of greetings (Acuff, 1997).
Eye contact is moderate as a stronger and steadier one may be perceived
as an attempt of intimidation or hostility (Gesteland, 1996).
They like formality and use titles and last names (Acuff, 1997).
- Communication
They are high-context and are not likely to go straight to the point by using
a lot of small talks.
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They use a lot of indirect language and are vague and ambiguous. A direct
and explicit language could offend the other party. They are subtle and never
express their disagreement by a blunt “no”.
They are polite and respectful at all times and avoid open confrontation in
order not to lose face. They do not sharply disagree, embarrass counterparts
to avoid to make them lose face.
They avoid to interrupt people who are talking and speak softly (Gesteland,
They are reserved and neutral people and thus are low contact. Unless the
relationship is well established, personal distance is greater than in the West
and they do not like to be patted on the back and shoulders (Acuff, 1997).
Their body language is very limited and use small gestures.
They perceive loud, expressive and impatient behavior as offensive
(Gesteland, 1996) and a lack of self-control (Chen, 2004).
They do not use the connoted individualistic “I” and are “we-oriented”
(Acuff, 1997) and then prefer having the feeling to deal with a group (Chen,
- Negotiation team and decision-making
Negotiation process and then decision-making are time-consuming. It
involves a lot of people and not only the one in the negotiating team (Chen,
The Chinese are very cautious and patience is a virtue, therefore they do
not like to rush decisions.
Negotiation meetings are just information gathering and decision is made
outside the meeting after many reviews (Chen, 2004).
- Other aspects
They are hierarchical and status conscious on the basis of age and the
oldest members are likely to be the most important (Acuff, 1997). Also, they
expect to negotiate with an equal ranked and aged person as the contrary
might be a sign of lack of sincerity and even of disrespect (Chen, 2004).
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They value punctuality; a lack of it is disrespectful (Acuff, 1997; Gesteland,
2.3) Chinese post-negotiation style
Chinese value more the strength of the relationship with both the
negotiators and the company than the final written agreement, which is more
an expression of intent.
They do not feel the obligation to strictly comply with a contract and
consider that both parties can renegotiate it afterwards if it is required (Acuff,
1997; Chen, 2004; Gesteland, 1996).
They consider the use of lawyers as meaningless as trust and friendship
should be established between both parties.
Finally, to reach a business agreement is seen as a collaboration with a
trusted friend by focusing on long-term benefits. It means to be able to do
business with them as long as trust and friendship is still present.
It suggests that the next negotiation is likely to be easier and also that the
Chinese friend is likely to help with his connections.
Summing up
This part showed the impact of culture on negotiation style. The established
link between the two concepts proved the usefulness of such study.
Within the ambit of the report, this part meets the two first objectives of the
research in first identifying both cultures of France and China and second
determining their respective theoretical negotiation styles.
It shapes the basis for the following step that is the actual research. This
research or investigation meets the two next objectives before reaching the
aim of the research.
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Chapter Two: Methodology
A qualitative and exploratory investigation
This part deals with the actual research, that is all its aspects, and what
followed from that. Briefly, it was decided the research nature to be
qualitative due to the research topic itself.
Thus the part aims first to depict the entire research methodology following
what Saunders, et al. (2003) call “the research process onion”, and second
to justify the different choices made.
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Research philosophy
That section relates to the way the development of knowledge is thought
and so the way the research is carried out (Saunders, et al., 2003).
The topic is about cultural aspects narrowed down to negotiation styles. It
is understood from the theory that culture is unique to every country reflecting
itself on negotiations styles.
Thus, even if every single person of a same culture cannot be expected to
behave, to think exactly the same way, major patterns are definable. Due to
the link between culture and negotiations styles, major patterns for the
negotiation styles have been defined.
Therefore it has been thought that general patterns do not need to be
proven or verified by numbers (positivism) but by discovering “the details of
the situation to understand the reality or perhaps a reality working behind
them” (Remenyi et al., 1998, cited in Saunders, et al. 2003).
Therefore an interpretivist philosophy was preferred in that context, which
would give more flexibility concerning both the exploration of the topic and the
interpretation of the results.
The aim of the research is to understand why French negotiators are likely
to negotiate in a particular way in order to make sense of the final
recommendations for them when negotiating with Chinese counterparts. This
process defines the role of the interpretivist according to Saunders, et al.
Research approach
That section deals with the rapport between the theory and the research
itself. Does the research test the theory or does the research build a theory?
In other terms, it concerns whether the research moves from theory to data or
from data to theory (Saunders, et al., 2003).
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Those different approaches are respectively called deductive and inductive
As suggested by Saunders, et al. (2003), it is beneficial to use a
combination of both approaches and thus it was decided to do so in some
1) Deductive approach
A deductive approach has been chosen in the purpose to test and thus to
validate or disprove the theory concerning both French and Chinese cultures
and thus negotiation styles.
However this is the only justification to call it deductive. Indeed and
because of the interpretivist nature of the research and so the low value given
to numbers to endorse the research, the “theory test” was done through only
qualitative data and not quantitative or scientific ones.
2) Inductive approach
The further and most important part of the research was this time carried
out inductively based on the validation or disproval of both cultures’ and
negotiation styles’ theories.
Those collected qualitative data aimed and allowed to identify potential
French cultural inhibitors within the context of Franco-Chinese negotiations.
Those determined cultural inhibitors have been used in order to explore
what is going on during Franco-Chinese negotiations, which led to develop a
theory about how to negotiate with Chinese from a French perspective
represented by the final recommendations.
Research strategy
That section is about the decisions made so as to get the required answers
for the research in stating clear objectives, specifying the sources and the
constraints (Saunders, et al., 2003).
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As evoked previously, the main research has an exploration characteristic.
Therefore an exploratory study strategy was chosen in order to fulfil the final
aim of the report.
However and before that exploratory phase, a part of the research has
been carried out through a descriptive phase.
1) Descriptive strategy
A descriptive strategy was decided in order to “portray profile of persons”
(Robson, 2002, cited in Saunders, et al., 2003), who in this case are both
French and Chinese.
As it is obvious, this descriptive study phase is linked to the deductive
approach mentioned before and aimed to verify cultures’ and especially
negotiation styles’ theories.
Due to the qualitative aspect of the research, two samples of six persons
(one French and one Chinese) were determined to be enough. How the data
have been collected from them is discussed later.
It was easy to access to the “required” French and Chinese people due to
the proximity of them and the relations maintained with them during the whole
year, which led to a quick collaboration.
The outcomes of it have then been used to carry the next phase of the
research. In other terms, the descriptive study was used as a forerunner to the
exploratory research as Saunders, et al. (2003) define it.
2) Exploratory strategy
Thus, the exploratory research was used so as to find out “what is
happening, to ask questions and to assess phenomena in a new light”
(Robson, 2002, cited in Saunders, et al., 2003) in the context of FrancoChinese negotiations.
This exploratory study is linked to the inductive approach mentioned before
aiming to develop the recommendations (new theory) sought by the research.
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The recommendations are defined as new theory because those are
focused from the French perspective, which gives a unique characteristic to
the recommendations.
One way to conduct an exploratory research is “to talk to experts in the
subjects” (Saunders, et al., 2003). In the context of the report, it was decided
to collect experiences from French managers.
Still due to the qualitative aspect of the research, it was decided to contact
a maximum of three French managers who experience Franco-Chinese
The result was that only two have been possible to carry out, as the third
one never replied when the time came to do the research.
Thus, the exploratory research is based from two point of views, which
have been considered all the same reliable given that the research focussed
on the “why it is happening” and not “how many times it is happening”.
Of course, different point of views mean different experiences but it does
not mean that the fundamental French manner of thinking and acting during
negotiations (or the willing to do so) is totally different. This is why two points
of views were assumed to be enough.
Also, in an ethical concern, the name of both companies and of both
French managers will never be cited and used in the report. Pseudonyms will
be attributed to them in that purpose.
The first company is situated in the area of Paris. It is a subsidiary of a
Dutch airfreight company formed in 1994.
This one was chosen because of the ease of access. Indeed, an
acquaintance that worked there helped to establish the relationship. Also, it is
not a big company and thus people within it were relatively easy to contact
and reach when needed.
The contact in the French company is the manager of the external relations
and has the experience of Franco-Chinese negotiations for nearly eight years
now. He will be named Jack.
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The second one is situated in the area of Paris as well. It is a subsidiary of
a famous American company in the printing equipment. The nature of the
negotiation relation with Chinese is about buying materials used to construct
the range of the different products.
It was a bit more difficult and longer to establish contact with it, as it
required search to find it and then time to reach and contact the “needed”
person in the company, as the company was bigger than the first one.
The contact person is a member of the purchase department and
participates to Franco-Chinese negotiations for two years now. He will be
named John.
It was not possible to contact and deal with its chief executive, who would
have provided a better credibility.
Data collection method
Data have been collected through qualitative semi-structured interviews. It
is important as the focus is given to the understanding of the meanings.
Through such qualitative interviews a “rich and detailed set of data” can be
collected (Saunders, et al., 2003).
It is useful, as it makes possible to explore in depth the issue notably
because the interviewees “talk freely about events, behaviour and beliefs in
relation to the topic area” (Saunders, et al., 2003). Given the research topic
and the research philosophy, more value is given to such qualitative data.
1) Semi-structured group interview/Focus group
Concerning the data about both French and Chinese cultures and
negotiation styles, semi-structured interviews have been used through a group
basis or focus group. Those took place in the descriptive part of the research.
The aim was to cover the cultural points found in both negotiation styles. It
might suggest that some part on both cultures sections in the literature review
could be then useless and meaningless but on the contrary, it helps the
reader to understand the cultural context, which shape negotiations styles.
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The reason why the focus group did not aim to cover the whole part on
cultures is simply because it would have been too long and produced too
much information, which most of them would have been out of the report’s
The main concern of the focus groups was “to keep one person or coalition
of persons from dominating the group and to encourage recalcitrant
respondents to participate” (Denzin, & Lincoln, 2003). It required some
directivity to obtain responses from the entire group.
However, that directivity needed to be balanced so as to avoid hindering
the interviewees when expressing themselves and to ensure to get as more
information as possible.
Also in a concern to avoid lack of trust and to ensure to get people at ease
during the focus groups, the individuals were not chosen at random. Indeed,
only people with whom relationships was established have been chosen.
There was another reason to choose to carry such focus groups. Indeed,
one point was to define how French and Chinese relate to each others.
Observation was determined to be a way to study it.
2) Structured observation
It aimed to observe either a collectivist behaviour or an individualist one. By
extension, it is related to the manner decision in a group are likely to be made.
Do the individuals tend to concert each others seeking to obtain a kind of
consensus or rather to challenge each other’s point of views?
Rather to ask a simple question about that, it was preferred to observe
individuals’ behaviour especially when answering to questions. Therefore
observation was used to collect some primary data.
It was used in a really focussed manner and concerned an unique and only
one behaviour. Thus a structured observation was decided as the aim was to
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quantify that behaviour (Saunders, et al., 2003), either consultation or
challenge of point of views.
To facilitate the observation, the focus group was carried at a round table.
Thanks to that, it has been easy to notice whether individuals were more
looking at the others (consensus) when answering or if they were more
looking at me (more individualist). Also, that configuration favours the
emergence of both behaviours as individuals are clearly seeing each others.
Beyond that, the round table facilitate as well the control of the focus group,
and to put everyone at ease in a more interactive configuration.
3) Semi-structured one-to-one interview
Two semi-structured interviews on a one-to-one basis were conducted.
Those took place in the exploratory part of the research seeking to find out
what is happening during Franco-Chinese negotiations.
Personal contact with the participants have been established and
maintained in order to gain the essential trust to carry successful interviews
(Denzin, & Lincoln, 2003). It allowed as well to ease the request of a meeting
and to favour the acceptance of it.
Face-to-face meetings have been preferred so as to ensure to get the
required information in case of misunderstanding. As Saunders, et al. (2003)
state, interviews are more likely to achieve the getting of answers to all the
questions than the use of a questionnaire.
Also and given the semi-opened nature of the questions, participants were
expected to reflect and develop their answers, which can be a factor of
reluctance when those have to be written down through a questionnaire
(Saunders, et al., 2003).
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4) Aspects to consider
When deciding to carry interviews whatever the nature of it, some ethical
concerns have to be respected.
Also, there are inevitable constraints encountered doing so.
Ethical concerns
Both interviews and both focus groups were conducted on an ethical basis.
Firstly, the agreement to record has always been asked beforehand (focus
groups and one-to-one interviews). No refusals were received but in case of
one, record would not have been occurred. Record helped to ease the
analysis of the data but also ensure the “veracity of the reports made by the
author” (Denzin, Lincoln, 2003) in order to protect both the participants and
the interviewer.
Secondly, high confidentiality (especially for companies) is maintained on
the participants and their information whence the allocation of pseudonyms.
Thirdly, all participants have been protected from any kind of harming and
had all the time to express themselves.
The principal constraint encountered during the research concerned the
third “participant”. Indeed, as a meeting was required, no replies came even
after the sending of many emails. Fortunately, it did not generate bad
consequences except the fact of one fewer point of view.
Concerning both one-to-one interviews, the constraint was definitely the
location of those. Indeed, it required time and money to do and finance the
necessary travels from Derby. However, once arrived, time and money were
not constraints anymore as living in Paris, I could stay as much days as
Meetings were arranged before going to Paris and no special delays and
changing dates occurred.
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One factor was feared though, which was simply my capacity to conduct
such interviews, as those were the first ones. However, the interviews were
conducted before a period of vacation and both participants had less pressure
as usual and gave me the necessary time.
Concerning both focus groups, the organisation of the actual meeting was
a bit irksome as a possible time for everybody had to be found. It needed to
diffuse the information but as well to wait for the positive replies.
The French focus group was pretty simple to organise and the date after
having been decided was not changed.
However, the Chinese one was longer to establish as two times, the
established time and date were changed due to inconsistencies of some
individual’s agenda.
Otherwise, the actual unfolding of those were without any major problems.
Nevertheless, an attention to refocus the discussion was necessary as
sometimes it completely moved away from the topic with jokes. However, no
drawback is seen from that as it demonstrates a certain enthusiasm and good
mood from the participants.
Data analysis method
This section explains how the collected data have been analysed.
Saunders, et al. (2003) recognize that qualitative data can be analysed either
from a deductive position or an inductive one.
Both were used respectively to what have been explained in the research
approach section (2.2).
A deductive position was adopted concerning the focus groups outcomes
and existing theory was used to shape the data analysis.
Concerning the one-to-one interviews, an inductive position was adopted to
build up the final recommendations.
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Concerning the actual analysis, a narrative strategy was preferred. Simply
because, the nature of the interviews encouraged the participants to share
accounts of their experiences through their subjective interpretations
(Saunders, et al., 2003). More value was given to do that way to relate the
actual points of the participants
Thus, “understanding and meaning were promoted through analysing
narrative accounts in their originally told form” (Saunders, et al., 2003). That
way, relevant and significant points were easier to emphasize.
Summing up
Through this part, it has been developed how the research was carried out.
Based on justification, it was decided then to choose an interpretivist
philosophy undergone with some extent of deductive approach but mainly
through an inductive one.
The research adopted a descriptive strategy (focus groups) at the
beginning, to be fully exploratory at the end (two one-to-one interviews).
The qualitative aspect of the research led to collect data through mainly
semi-structured interviews of which outcomes are narrated in the following
The following chapter meet the third and fourth objectives of the research.
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Chapter Three: Findings and
What have been found out ?
And so what ? The judgements
This part aims to first transcribe what have been found from both focus
groups and the one-to-one interviews and second to make appropriate
judgments on the outcomes.
In a concern of clarity, questions are addressed separately and answers
are followed by the conclusions.
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Focus groups
Questions have been addressed following the flow of the conversation with
the participants.
However, questions have been formulated and ordered, which give a
framework to address those and simplify the reading as well as the
understanding. Please refer to appendices to get full questions and their
The tendencies of answers are given followed by the most interesting
quotes. Simple approbations are not cited. Answers of both focus groups are
treated simultaneously to help the comparison and the building of conclusions.
1) Trust and relationship
Trust is likely to come more or less quickly and easily.
“It depends on the person”
“I am very suspicious”
“If the person is nice to me and/or inspire me, the trust will come easily”
“Time is the factor to realize there is trust in the relationship”
All agreed to say Trust is the most important thing and is necessary to
make a relationship last.
“Without trust, hypocrisy settles”
“Trust equals sincerity”
Trust is not likely to come quickly and easily.
“I don’t trust others easily […] it requires long time to develop the trust”
“Yeah, we need time, because some friend just want to use you sometimes”
“Some people just want to be your friends for some reason, which is not friendship”
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Trust was given a big importance in friendship.
“Friendship is important to me and trust is the factor to decide to keep it any
“Trust means honesty to me”
Both focus groups highlighted the fact French and Chinese are not likely to
be quickly trusting to an unknown person.
This corroborates the theories according to those French are suspicious
(Hall and Hall, 1990), the high uncertainty avoidance rates of both France and
China (Hofstede, 1984), and the importance of trust for Chinese in any
relationship (Fang, 1999).
Also, it justifies the fact pre-negotiation stages are likely to last a long time.
2) Private questions in friendship
None are likely to ask private questions at the first encounter, rather later.
“It depends on my willing to build a relationship or not”
“It is about making someone entrust something private, time is required before that”
“Those questions are asked when a friendly climate is there”
All are not likely to ask private questions at the first encounter.
“It may feel curious […] I do not make friendship with the family”
“Unless the person starts, I will not ask”
“It does not help to build friendship or speed up the friendship building”
One had an interesting remark:
“I will not ask private questions because I have overseas study experience. But most
people in China do not believe others and think to get more awareness in asking
those” This remark had the approbation of some others.
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All agreed to say private questions should come later on. For the French, it
is some like the confirmation of the friendship and are then shared only with
friends. For the Chinese it seems not to be an indispensable part of the
friendship to know the other’s family life.
It is not put in a business context but it puts into perspective the theory
suggesting Chinese negotiators ask private questions in order to build
friendship with their counterparts. Those questions are not definitely sure to
be asked.
The last Chinese remark suggests this is the tendency for Chinese who
have been out of China, thus the theory is right when obviously applied to
Chinese people who have never been out of China.
It is not enough to affirm that, but this outcome makes think that Chinese
culture is maybe slightly changing due to the opening of China and the abroad
3) Friendship with colleagues
Different answers were expressed. Some were definitely negative ones as:
“It seems difficult to me to have a friendship with colleagues especially if I am a
“No, definitely not” followed by a laugh
Some were more mitigated as:
“It could happen but only after a long time to know them, then they might become
“Friendship with colleagues? Yes but I would not share my private life”
They are likely to build friendship with colleagues but not so likely to share
private life.
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“Yes, I think it is important for my career life. However, I will not share my private,
family life unless it is necessary”
“Yes, I will build friendships with colleagues, but I do not like share private things”
“I strongly think building friendship through professional life. But I will not share
private, family life with everyone”
“It would depend on how close the friendship is”
 Analysis:
The specific French culture aspect is showed but the diffuse Chinese one is
again somewhat put into perspective as all expressed not to like sharing
private life with colleagues.
Trompenaars’ finding about diffuse Chinese culture seems to be a bit old or
at least not as strong. However, the outcomes are from Chinese who have life
experiences out of China, it sends back to the highlighted fact by the second
question last remark with the shift of Chinese culture.
4) Steady eye contact when encountering
A steady eye contact does not seem to be an issue:
“[…] I expect it otherwise I do not want to speak, so NO PROBLEM” followed by a
mutual laugh
“It shows kindness, respect and is a way of communicating as well”
“I feel like he is interested in what I am saying and thus encourages to carry on, it
makes me feel at ease”
Obviously, a steady eye contact is well perceived, even expected.
“It shows whether concentration or respect from the others”
“Keep eyes steady with the person when talking is my habit”
“I will feel it is friendly”
“It is very important and will make me feeling well”
The French answers were expectable from the theory and notably
Gesteland (1996) on the greetings. However, the Chinese ones were more
surprising. Indeed, a steady eye contact does not seem to be associated with
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an attempt of intimidation or hostility as Gesteland (1996) suggests and is
even expected.
It suggests the French eye contact when greeting should not be badly
perceived by the Chinese.
5) Handshake when meeting
All males expressed the necessary aspect of a handshake especially with
other males to start a first interaction and notably in a business context.
Females determined in a business context a simple nod or a hand sign is
enough, except for an interview.
If the handshake does not occur
All females and males agreed around:
“It is a bit weird as something was missing”
“The conversation would go somewhat wrong”
“It might be perceived as something rude”
Handshake seems to be spread in China.
“In Chinese culture it seems important to have a handshake especially when first
meeting people or business context”
“Yes, handshake is a start point”
If the handshake does not occur
“They are not friendly or do not respect you”
“I will think the person is so rude”
“It is a lack of politeness”
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Again, French answers corroborate the theory whereas Chinese ones are
disproving a bit the theory. They did not say it was the only form of greeting
but they associated the non-occurrence of it as something rude, lack of
politeness. Thus when Acuff (1997) says a nod or slight bow are more
common, he seems to be a bit out-of-date.
Following that, the French greeting behaviour seems to be appropriate with
6) Communication and expressiveness
Differences in being expressive, but none affirmed not to be so.
“Yes, I usually talk loud to make people notice I am here, I use gestures and I
especially love using my hands”
“I am from the South of France, therefore I am used to see people communicating this
way, I guess it was compulsory for me to do the same” followed by a laugh
“I use my hands but I do not talk too loud”
If yes
They said either to be aware about culture differences and thus/or simply
not to be bothered about calm conversation.
One however said:
“I can be bothered by a person too calm as it is likely to make the conversation laze”
Except one, talking loud and using body language is not the habit.
“I do not like talking loud in public areas as well as using too much gestures”
“I might use a little hand action”
“In public, I will not talk loud and use sometimes body language”
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If no
That type of communication is perceived negatively.
“I do not feel comfortable […] it gives me an impression of impoliteness”
“I think the person has no self-restraint”
“It makes me feel uncomfortable”
One had an interesting remark:
“I perceive a calm person as someone knowledgeable” All approved.
The answers verify the theories about the French affective and Chinese
neutral cultures and their respective use of body language (Trompenaars,
1993; Hall and Hall, 1990).
Given the Chinese answers, it is obvious that the French communication
style would be detrimental for a Franco-Chinese negotiation. It is a major
inconsistency between the two cultures and has to be carefully considered.
7) Disagreement and arguing
The argument was defined as important and a mean to express
“To argue allows to endorse my point of view and to eventually make someone learn
something or on the contrary to learn something”
“I like arguing to show that my point of view is the right or best one”
“It is important not to let the person limited by his/her opinion, to argue help to do
“I always debate when I disagree, but I always seek to know why our opinions are
On the contrary of the French, Chinese do not favour debates and
Moderately used:
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“Yes, I sometimes like arguing with my friends but in a polite way to transfer the
ideas instead of quarrel”
“I will argue if it is necessary”
“I argue when it is a good friend”
“I tend to avoid the verbal confrontation and find another way of persuasion”
French and Chinese tendencies to respectively relish conflict (Hall and Hall,
1990; Hofstede, 1984 retrieved by ITIM International B, 2003) and to minimize
it (Fang, 1999; Trompenaars, 1993; Gesteland, 1996) are verified.
It defined again an inconsistency between the two cultures way of
communicating, which could inhibit a Franco-Chinese negotiation.
8) Perception of verbal confrontation
They developed the usefulness of arguing/debating but:
“Limits have to be there and people have to listen to each other. Otherwise, it is
useless and becomes a quarrel”
“It is good to defend opinions but sometimes it can create tensions”
One had an interesting remark:
“I like debating with friends, to contradict each other in order to demonstrate who is
right. It is a part of the game” All agreed then.
The major patter is that conflict is not liked.
“Conflict always make me feel upset and fed up. I do not like people communicating
this way”
“If the person is not a friend, I would see it as aggressiveness and unfriendly”
“Unless it is necessary, conflict is useless and spoil conversation”
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Linked to the previous question, it reinforces the idea that even if French
are conscious of the potential bad consequences of debating, their relish to
use it could be definitely detrimental in a Franco-Chinese negotiation given
the Chinese answers.
9) Direct language and its perception
Some associate directivity with disrespect whereas others define it as
sometimes positive and even expect it.
“It is not disrespect, on the contrary it makes you realize what you maybe need to
change or to understand”
“I think that it is normal and honest if someone tells you what he doesn’t like”
“I feel offended, tact is a quality and respect of others is important”
“Yes, a direct critic makes me ill at ease, and it could lead me to react negatively with
a quarrel”
All agreed it depends whether the person is a friend or not and also
expressed an awareness of culture difference.
“If the person is a good friend and tell the truth I will accept the critic”
“Yes, that is right. If the critic is useful, I would like to know it”
“No, the person might have a different personality or even a different culture. He/she
might never mean to hurt you” followed by a mutual agreement
Chinese expressed a culture difference awareness, which definitely comes
from their experience abroad. Thus, it implies that Chinese who do not have
such experience could perceive negatively such critic especially if the person
is not well known.
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This corroborates the concept of face (Fang, 1999; Hofstede and Bond,
1988) developed in Chapter One and suggests French should pay great
attention to it.
Also, This outcome is another, which suggests that Chinese culture is
maybe changing.
10) Use of direct or indirect language
Some are indirect to avoid offending the other whereas some see a waste
of time in being indirect.
“When it can hurt the person, I will be indirect”
“I prefer being indirect, the person is then less aggressed and understand at the same
“I do not agree as the message can be misunderstood. I consider being indirect as a
waste of time”
It generally depends on whom they talk to.
“If I know very well the person and keep a good friendship I will try to say it directly”
“Yes, with friends I will be more direct”
Some other remarks have been said:
“[…] However, I would prefer say things indirectly if more other people are around”
“[…] Also, I am indirect when talking to older people, otherwise they might think I
am impolite”
The high contexts of both cultures (Hall and Hall, 1990) are shown here.
Linked to the previous question, it seems that Chinese accept directivity when
it comes from friends, that directivity is to be avoided in public and in front of
older people surely to avoid to make someone lose face.
Therefore, directivity has to be carefully used and awareness about when it
is possible to use it is important.
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11) Value of logic for arguments and decision-making
Logic was given an important value for debating. A logical decision was
defined as better, righteous.
“Logic is a proof and demonstration of righteousness in either case of an argument
and decision”
“I definitely give more importance to logical arguments […] When I can use my logic
to make a decision, I use it”
They considered logic as very important concerning arguments and
“A good logical argument is much more valuable and easy to be accepted”
“I expect people to communicate this way […] I like logical persons”
“Logical thinking can help my friends to understand me easily”
As expected (Hall and Hall, 1990; Communal and Senior, 1999; Acuff,
1997), logical thinking is favoured by French and highly valuable when
The Chinese appeared to give importance to it as well, but frequent
interruptions of negotiation on the basis of “illogical” arguments (Gesteland,
1996; Lewis, 1999) from the French could lead the Chinese to feel offended,
even disrespected as it is a direct critic on what they say.
12 French) Association of high education level and status
A high education level was associated with status and defined thus as
“I think even if it is not everything, education is important for a job”
“It gives a status. I would be respectful and impressed with someone having a PHD
or an MBA. It is a proof of knowledge”
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It verifies the status ascription of French culture according to the education
(Trompenaars, 1993). Thus, French negotiators are likely to be high-educated
12 Chinese) Perception of age
They all said it does not mean anything. They could talk and behave
differently but not in order to show respect or expect of getting respect
according to them.
“There are no differences for me”
“I just behave and talk different to older or younger people, but I do not associate
specific characteristic with Age”
From a business context perspective, a remark was given:
“Age does not mean too much […] if the person could give useful suggestions, age is
not a problem”
The status ascription by the Age (Trompenaars, 1993; Acuff, 1997) seems
to be attenuated compared to what the theory describe. The respect due to
elders (Wu, 1996; Lewis, 1999; Fang, 1999) is certainly applicable but the
association Age-Knowledge and thus capability is less important according to
the participants’ answers.
But again, if it is a consequence of a culture change, it means that attention
have to be paid to particularly the Chinese counterpart age as elders are less
likely to have abroad experience.
13) Perception of rules
Rules appeared to be necessary to all but some feel limited by those.
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“People should control themselves but laws need to exist”
“Rules can limit ourselves and I can feel bothered by a rule which does not fit me”
“I feel okay with rules as far as those are for the well being of everyone”
“I think rules give the right guidelines to people, thus I am ok with this” All agreed
All expressed to be okay with rules, which are necessary.
“It is acceptable if rules are reasonable because we cannot live without”
“I do not feel like rules are controlling my behavior”
One remarked:
“Rules are just references” All then agreed
All participants seem to have the same opinion that rules are necessary
and agreed when one participant in each group said rules were references,
guidelines, which must not hinder people to evolve in the right sense.
This corroborates the particularism aspects of both cultures and concerning
Chinese the likeliness to consider the terms of a contract renegotiable.
14) Use of self-deadlines
The tendency was to say it is useful but difficult to follow.
“I always establish some but I never manage to respect those”
“I work according to circumstances, thus even if I set deadlines to myself, I am not
always following these”
“No, I do not use that and I do not tempt to set some”
They all determined that:
“It is hard but worth to manage to respect those”
“I always plan when I work”
“I am a good time management person and like to have my life in order”
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The French polychronic and synchronic (Lewis, 1992; Trompenaars, 1993)
aspect is clearly showed whereas the Chinese are likely to follow and respect
the deadlines and schedules.
This, when applied to a post Franco-Chinese negotiation, could be an
inconsistency between both cultures and lead to a discontentment of the
Chinese if deadlines are not respected by the French.
Collective or individual behaviour observation
It was observed those interviewees before and when answering questions
were not looking to each other, which happens only after answering.
Generally, when disagreement came up from another, attempts to interrupt
the speaker occurred. Contradictions were expressed quickly and defended
many times.
It was noticed a time of silence was occurring before to get an answer. It
lasted not more than five seconds while they were looking very often to each
Agreement were expressed mutually if not endorsed by another answer.
Participants always expressed their disagreement after the speaker had
finished. Also, it never led to another argument from the first participant.
The French individualism and Chinese collectivism (Hofstede, 1984) is
highlighted from that. The individualism of French led them to let flow opinions
confrontation whereas the collectivism of Chinese stopped it when there was
not a consensus.
Applied to a Franco-negotiation context, it could lead the Chinese to
perceive the French team disorganised and maybe not unified, which might be
a bit detrimental according to Acuff (1997) and Chen (2004) if such opinions
debating occur in front of the Chinese team.
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One-to-one interviews
These interviews have been conducted on the basis on what have been
found from the focus groups.
Again, a framework for the questions has been put in appendix. According
to the interview, other questions sometimes came up. In that case, it is
mentioned within the text.
The two interviews are addressed simultaneously in order to only highlight
important facts and to avoid potential remarks repetition.
1) Franco-Chinese negotiation experience
The two participants have different experiences. Jack negotiates with
Chinese for almost eight years now whereas John has an experience of two
2) The need to know the other
Both expressed the fact Chinese talk a lot before starting to negotiate.
John: “I guess they love having friendly talks, which is a pretty good thing”
Jack: “Well yes, they spend time to talk with and about you”
Jack: “I remember a negotiation when I traveled to China with my colleagues around
five years ago. I do remember that before having an actual business meeting to
address the negotiation, five days were spent in restaurants and entertainment. I
really enjoyed it”
I asked if he did not think it was a too long time.
Jack: “Well, not really because I enjoyed it and it was very welcoming. However
sometimes, days are spend as well without talking business but it is not that enjoyable
and it becomes a bit annoying”
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It then corroborates both theory and what have been found from the focus
groups. They expressed the fact it was enjoyable and a good thing. Therefore,
a French should not negatively perceive it.
However, Jack’s second answer suggests Chinese pre-negotiation time is
longer than French one and could get annoying if it is not really pleasant.
3) Private questions
Different perspectives were expressed.
John: “Well, it depends. It happened I would say half of the time. Nevertheless when
it happened I was never asked such questions at the first encounter”
I asked him if he could determine why it sometimes happened and
sometimes not, but he could not find a veritable reason.
Jack related the same fact. However, after John’s interview I revised the
Chinese focus group (interesting remark of the second question) and asked
him to think about the overall ages of the Chinese who asked him and those
who did not, if the former were older than the latter.
Jack: “Well, if I remember well and generalize, I would say that I have been more
asked those type of questions by the older Chinese I have negotiated with”
It was assumed that older Chinese are less likely to have been abroad than
younger ones whence the link between the interesting remark and the age of
the “askers”.
Compared to the Chinese focus group answers, it suggests it happens
more often in a business context.
Also, it definitely highlights and endorses, if not a shift of Chinese culture, a
difference of behaviour between young and old.
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4) Reaction face to private questions
This question showed the difference of experience between the two
participants. Indeed, John said it was not really natural for him to talk about
John: “Well, I do not really like to share that part of my life especially in a business
context. Thus, I am really vague and try to talk about something else when it
Jack shared his experience about that fact.
Jack: “Well, I evolved I would say towards that point. At my debuts, I was a bit
reluctant to keep going on that kind of conversation until I realized something. […] I
think it hindered the relationship as he was then behaving slightly differently. […] I
now never negatively react and consider it is part of the business and I perceive such
questions as a good thing for the coming negotiation”
I asked him if he could remember the approximate age of the one he was
talking about and when it happened, still in the purpose to maybe highlight a
behaviour difference between ages.
He was obviously around fifty and it occurred around four years.
John and Jack’s answers show the specific culture of French, which could
be an inhibitor as “socialization” with the Chinese counterpart through this way
is stopped and avoided.
Jack’s experience makes clear that it could be an inhibitor as he stated it is
a part of business. Thus, if a part is missing of the business, the business is
not complete I would say.
Further, Jack’s second answer implies again the difference of behaviour
between ages mentioned previously.
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5) Greetings
Jack and John had different answers. John always shakes hands but had
an anecdote.
John: “[…] I went to shake his hand and he looked at me like he did not know what I
was intending to do. After a while he all the same shook my hand but completely
without any conviction”
Jack said it depends on the person and he always let the counterpart the
I tried to define a reason and asked if according to him it was linked again
with the age.
Jack replied: “Well yes, I would say older ones are likely to put more distance and
thus the handshake is less likely to happen”
About the steady eye contact, they expressed not to have a precise any
idea about it.
It appears again that different behaviour can be encountered with different
Chinese counterparts. Even if from the focus groups this cannot be defined as
an inhibitor, John’s anecdote implies it could be one in some cases.
6) Small talks too long?
Both agreed to say Chinese take a long time but that they do not try to
push them.
John: “Yes, it is sometimes too long and gets a bit annoying. I guess it is their manner
to do and I never try to accelerate because it could lead to the reverse effect”
Jack: “I have understood if they do that is because they need to do so. Further, I
guess it is better to let them the initiative to get to the point”
After their respective answers, I have asked if they would then prefer
getting straight to the point and forget the small talks.
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It was the same answer like John’s:
John: “No, no, it is not what I mean. I just say that to me I would stop the small talks
before they do”
It corroborates perfectly the theory especially Hall and Hall (1990) highcontext characteristics.
French seem to be more deal-focused as Gesteland (1996) mention when
actually negotiating. Therefore, the longer time Chinese spend before getting
to the point could be a factor of impatience for the French and becomes a
detrimental cultural inconsistency for a Franco-Chinese negotiation.
7) Disagreement expression
Once again, this question showed the difference of experience. John
expressed to be generally indirect but sometimes he is more direct.
John: “[…] for example, sometimes they are so vague that you feel like they do not
talk about the right thing. It gets me maybe a bit annoyed and make me to disagree
more easily because I want to refocus the discussion on the negotiation”
John related he could to some extent lose his patience during the actual
negotiation. Thus, I have then asked if in these cases he was likely to interrupt
the evasive counterpart and how he was “proceeding”.
John: “Well, it happens when an important aspect of a negotiation is … not avoided
but not addressed properly. I then try to stop the speaker with my hand and face
expression, for example, and make him notice my willing to refocus”
Jack showed more experience in this domain. Indeed, he said to be most of
the time indirect as he realised to be too direct with a Chinese could be
Jack: “I am usually indirect when I disagree except when I really have to affirm my
position. However, to be too direct on every disagreement could lead the Chinese to
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be quite bad in exchange if not disrespectful. Believe me, I talk by experience” he
communicating determined in the theory. He described his reaction as using
body language, interrupting the counterpart and indirectly making a critic
towards him suggesting the Chinese is not enough precise and focused on
the real point.
From the Chinese focus group, it is proved that Chinese do not bear body
language (question six), do not interrupt speakers (collective behaviour
observation) and a critic especially from someone not well known made in
public (questions 9 and 10) is not well accepted as the Chinese could lose
It is a kind of a concentrate of not advisable reactions and behaviours to
have with a Chinese as it is concluded from the theory, Chinese focus group
and Jack’s experience.
Also, the question nine made the Chinese participants to express culture
difference awareness and then to be more likely to accept it. Again, it
suggests a difference of behaviour from those who lived abroad.
8) Logic in argument
I have linked this question to the previous one and asked it right after it.
Both related the same feeling (John’s answer were the clearest) that is:
John: “Yes, definitely. I favour a lot logic to make my argument clear and valuable
[…] I would not say they are illogical but they are less receptive to it I guess. When I
say a good argument with logic, I do not usually get the feeling they value it as much
as I do”
It agrees with the conclusion of the eleventh question of focus groups that a
French could be led to use too much logic in front of a Chinese who is not as
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much receptive to it as the French is. Thus French’s relish for logic could be
an inhibitor for such negotiation.
9) Oral agreement and signed contract
Concerning the respective value of an oral agreement and contract, both
were pretty clear.
John: “To my mind, a signed contract is the end of a negotiation and is the real value
of the agreement. Unless the company is an old partner and so trustworthy, I do not
see other cases in which an oral agreement has a big value in negotiation”
Jack: “Well I cannot imagine an agreement between my company with the other
without a signed contract. But I cannot imagine either to sign a contract with a
counterpart without orally agreeing. The oral agreement defines the contract, which
is a mutual security. I would say both are complementary but the latter is necessary”
Further both had the same opinion. Jack’s answer was more complete
Jack: “Well, a contract sets conditions […] if there is the possibility to renegotiate
the contract whenever one likes, where would be the use to sign a contract then.
Nevertheless, I already have seen such renegotiation occur”
The tendency, which comes up described the contract as an end of
negotiation that both companies have to respect. The possibility of
renegotiation is not taken-for-granted for the French but sometimes happens.
The mix of particularism and universalism of France seem to be shown
here. A further judgment is made in the next question.
10) Chinese’s willing to renegotiate contract’s terms
John simply said “No” whereas Jack related it happened.
Jack: “I do remember cases when renegotiation of certain terms occurred. It was not
about big changes but rather adjustments […] if it is occasional, I also think it is fine
and can just improve the outcomes of the relation but if it is too common and for big
changes, I guess it is not very serious.
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This completes the finding of the previous question. A signed contract is
not to be renegotiated for the French on the contrary of the Chinese who
consider rules as just guidelines (question 13).
This could be a hindrance for a good relationship with Chinese if strong
reluctance to do so is shown.
11) Intervention of a lawyer
Reflecting what they said about the value of a contract, they both affirm it
was standard and necessary to use a lawyer.
The thirteenth question of focus groups revealed Chinese consider rules as
necessary even those are guidelines. Therefore, the use of a lawyer should
not be seen as negative as the theory lets supposed but should not have an
important contribution in the negotiation and intervene just at the end
concerning the contract.
Summing up
This part revealed some contradictions between the theory and what have
been found out concerning some Chinese cultural aspects.
The exploration of Franco-Chinese negotiations revealed as well
inconsistencies between how Chinese are likely to culturally negotiate
according to the theory and how they do according to the French negotiators.
This part is the final step before the production of the aimed
recommendations, which are developed in the following and last chapter of
this report.
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Chapter Four: Conclusion,
Recommendations and Discussion
The new theory and further research
This part is composed of a conclusion, the recommendations and a final
discussion on the research.
The recommendations represent the “new theory” that whichever
exploratory and inductive research aimed to produce.
The final discussion relates the main generalisability limitation of the
research opening on further research in that sense and giving insight on a
discovered phenomenon about Chinese culture.
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Culture is a so huge and interesting topic having so many implications on
different facets of the actual international business that many studies have
been and are still produced about culture.
Throughout the report it has been seen international negotiation is one of
those facets, which culture influences on. Culture differences can be the
“enemy” of the international negotiators, but if awareness is developed about
it, culture can become one of their best assets.
The empirical study of Culture develops a global knowledge of it but cannot
replace the study of a specific case, which aims to explore it in depth and
develop expert knowledge of it.
Then this report allowed to explore in depth the case of Franco-Chinese
negotiations to develop expertise of French negotiators confronted to Chinese
Through the exploration of it, some theories have been confirmed whereas
some others have been put into perspective or even contradicted implying to
be out-of-date.
These contradictions concern exclusively Chinese culture suggesting a
possible shift of it due to the opening of China and the abroad studies.
Therefore, this critical exploration ensured to develop the sought
recommendations with up-to-date information.
Franco-Chinese negotiation recommendations
Those recommendations are issued from the analysis of both focus groups
and both one-to-one interviews.
The recommendations are developed following the three phases of
negotiation already used previously.
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1) Pre-negotiation phase
1) Chinese spend a longer time than French in that phase, which is very
important for Chinese. The French negotiator has to be patient or at least not
to express and show their impatience in case this phase is unpleasant.
Relationship could be altered and impatience could be perceived as an
attempt to rush things.
2) Private questions on private life could be asked, especially from an older
Chinese negotiator, during that phase. Despite of their specific culture, the
French negotiator should not react negatively in trying to avoid this when it
It has to be perceived as a part of the business auguring well the coming
2) Negotiation phase
3) The handshakes seem to be used a lot in China. However, the French
negotiator should repress his willing to systematically shake hands, as the
Chinese counterpart could be “old-fashioned” and prefer another greeting.
First initiative has to be let to the Chinese counterpart to use the
handshake or not.
4) The Chinese negotiators use much more small talks than the French
ones before getting to the point. The French negotiator needs to attenuate his
deal-focus during that phase so as to avoid to be perceived again as trying to
rush things.
5) The Latin communication style of the French has to be “controlled” and
the French negotiator should avoid to interrupt the Chinese counterpart,
especially when disagreeing. Disrespect and impoliteness are associated to
such interruptions while talking.
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6) France is an affective culture and is reflected in the use of body
language and tone of voice. Even if the French negotiator is likely to be more
formal than outside of a business context, use body language has to be
limited as it is perceive as a rude, impolite, not serious and uncontrolled
behaviour by the Chinese.
Calm behaviour is synonymous of knowledge. Thus tone of voice has to be
watched and blatant changes in it suppressed.
7) The French’s relish for arguing and debating must be attenuated as the
Chinese do not like arguing and do not perceive that as a good way of
communicating (aggressiveness, unfriendly, spoil the conversation).
8) The French negotiator must avoid to directly critic the Chinese
counterpart. It could lead the Chinese counterpart to lose face, which is highly
maddening for the Chinese and then detrimental for the negotiation.
9) Logical thinking of the French negotiator could be a main source of such
“direct critic”. The tendency to systematically interrupt the conversation and
critic the “illogical” arguments of the Chinese counterpart have to be
10) Age of the French negotiator could be important. The status ascription
by the age seems to be less right now but it does not mean it is not true
anymore especially concerning the “old” Chinese negotiators.
Therefore, the French side should get information about the Chinese
negotiation team.
11) The French negotiation team has to “save” their different opinions and
express them outside of the negotiation meetings. It will give the Chinese side
the feeling to deal with a group, which is what they value.
3) Post-negotiation phase
12) The contribution of a lawyer should be limited at the end of the
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13) Rules are just guidelines for the Chinese and expect to be able to
renegotiate contract terms, which is not taken-for-granted by the French. The
aim is to make last the business relationship and thus room should be let for
14) Finally, the French company should pay attention to respect schedules
and other deadlines set with the Chinese company so as to avoid any
1) Limitations
This research has got, as whichever research, some limitations. It is
important to set them and be aware of those to allow future and further
research to make it more complete.
Regarding the focus groups it is obvious that questions are not put into a
negotiation context, simply because interviewees did not have such
It would have been very difficult to do it with French and Chinese
negotiators because of time and lack of connections.
The only difference is the asked cultural aspects are put in a context
different to a negotiation one.
Therefore, question of reliability could be highlighted on the basis to
wonder whether cultural aspects expressed by the French and Chinese in the
focus-groups are applicable to a negotiation context even it is assumed that
culture influences in the same way individuals whatever the situations.
The main research’s limitation is especially due to its qualitative nature.
The empirical limitation of it is the question of generalisability.
The question of generalisability is, in that research, especially on the oneto-one interviews. Indeed, it is assumed that the focus groups produced
enough answers and gave the tendencies for each.
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However, concerning the one-to-one interviews it is legitimate to wonder if
more interviews and thus participant’s experiences would have produced
more different answers and enlarge the scope of the conclusions.
Therefore, further research should focus on interviewing more French
negotiators experiencing Franco-Chinese negotiations.
Nevertheless, it has to be noticed that when the one-to-one participants
expressed different answers, it was mainly due to their different background in
Franco-Chinese negotiations.
Then, it is expectable to get similar answers, as again the main
characteristics of culture remain very alike in every individual of a same
2) Phenomenon discovered
Further, the research came up with an interesting phenomenon. Indeed, it
has been expressed by some participants of the Chinese focus group,
potential difference of behaviour between Chinese people who have lived out
of China and those who have not.
This has been further suggested by the analysis of other Chinese focus
group answers and even to some extent confirmed by the analysis of some
answers of the one-to-one interviews.
This discovery implies to think and wonder whether Chinese culture is
changing. Such a culture shift would have many implications for international
companies aiming to deal with China.
Also and not least, it would put into perspective many existing theories
about Chinese culture as this research started to do.
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Here are the questions for both focus groups (and their reason) and one-toone interviews. Here are also the translated ones when carried out in French.
APPENDIX I: French focus-group questions (English version)
APPENDIX II: French focus-group questions (French version)
APPENDIX III: Chinese focus-group questions
APPENDIX IV: One-to-one interviews questions (English version)
APPENDIX V: One-to-one interviews questions (French version)
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APPENDIX I: French focus-group questions (English version)
1) When you build a relationship, do you trust easily the other
person? Or does it require time to develop that trust?
What is the value of trust in relationship?
It aimed to verify the theory about the uncertainty avoidance of both France
and China and by extension to validate those about the time spending during
the pre-negotiation phase. The likeliness to make it last a short or long time.
2) Still in the same context, do you ask private questions about family
at the first encounter or are you likely to ask this kind of questions later
Specific French culture had to be verified as well as the tendency of
Chinese to ask those type of questions, as French does not seem to like that
in a business context, which can be an inhibitor within a Franco-Chinese
3) Do you think building friendship with colleagues in your
professional life? Would you share your private, family life with them?
This one is an extension of the previous in order to reinforce the outcome
of it.
4) When meeting someone or even when talking, how do you perceive
a steady eye contact from the other (friendly, disrespect…? How does it
make you feel?
Is it the same if the person is a friend or not?
A French steady eye contact could be an inhibitor as Chinese perceive it as
an intimidation and hostility according to theory. It had to be verified.
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5) Still in the context of meeting someone (known or not), is a
handshake necessary, inevitable to start the interaction (if you are a girl,
see yourself in a business context)?
If no, do you use other kind of greetings?
If yes, how do you feel if the handshake does not occur?
The use of handshakes has been determined sometimes inappropriate with
the Chinese. As it is the systematic greeting of French, this question aimed to
determine or not an inhibitor from the use of handshakes.
6) When communicating, are you talking loud, using gestures (arms,
shoulders, head, eyebrows…)?
If no, do you feel comfortable with people communicating like this?
What do you feel and/or how do you perceive such communication
If yes, do you feel comfortable with people communicating in a more
calm and reflective way? What do you feel and/or how do you perceive
such communication behavior?
The opposition of French and Chinese communication styles could be an
important hindrance for the well unfolding of a Franco-Chinese negotiation.
This question allowed to determine how Chinese feel and/or perceive such
7) When you disagree with a friend, are you likely to argue (not
aggressively) to show and defend your point of view? Or, on the
contrary, you seek “to calm” the conversation to avoid the verbal
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From the theory Chinese seek to avoid conflict whereas French relish it.
Such a difference could be highly detrimental to a Franco-Chinese
negotiation. A validation or disproval of the theory had to be determined.
8) What does conflict (not aggressiveness) of point of views make you
feel? How do you perceive it (good, bad…)?
It is an extension of the previous question in order to get a more fully
understanding of how conflict is perceived and managed in both cultures.
9) When you receive a direct critic about you or what you are saying,
do you feel offended and think the person is disrespectful towards you?
If yes, how this critic should be said?
It is linked to the concept of face of the Chinese culture highlighted by the
theory. As it is an important part of Chinese individuals life, careful attention
should be paid to it. Thus, the verification of such a concept was necessary.
10) When communicating and want to make someone understand
something, do you say it directly or rather indirectly?
Can you define a reason?
It is linked again to the previous question and the concept of face. When
the previous was about “losing face”, this one was about “making someone
losing face”. It aimed to validate the concept and to determine the potential of
French communication to make lose face to a Chinese
It also has a rapport with the high-context cultural aspects of France and
11) Do you give much importance to logic when you have to endorse
a point of view? Is that the logic of the argument, which gives the value
to it? If no, what does give this value?
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It was determined that French negotiators often interrupt discussions
because of illogic from the counterpart. As Chinese are, according to theory,
negatively responsive to be interrupted and direct critic, this could be another
12) What does the high education level of a person mean to you?
Do you consider that the level of education gives a status of
knowledgeable and capable person especially in the business context?
In case the Age is such important in Chinese people minds, the difference
with the French status ascription according to the education could lead to an
inconsistency between who the Chinese counterpart expect to talk to and the
actual French negotiator.
13) Do you feel okay when rules (laws, uni’s rules, company’s rules…)
are “controlling” your behavior? How do you perceive rules?
If not or not really, do you think about another way?
Apparently, Chinese have a particular tendency to expect to renegotiate
contract. The term of rule in the question is associated to contract to verify this
Chinese tendency. Also, if the outcome is different between French and
Chinese, this could represent another inconsistency.
14) Do you use self-deadlines, schedules to work? Why yes or no?
This final question aimed to test the polychronic or monochronic aspect of
French and Chinese. It concerns directly the post-negotiation phase and again
could be a hindrance for a good Franco-Chinese business relationship.
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APPENDIX II: French focus-group questions (French version)
1) Au moment de construire une relation, faîtes-vous facilement et
rapidement confiance à la personne ou cela prend-il du temps ?
Quelle est la valeur de la confiance dans une relation quelqu’elle soit ?
2) Toujours dans le même contexte, posez-vous des questions privées
notamment à propos de la famille lors de la première rencontre ou posez-vous
ce genre de questions plus tard ?
3) Pensez-vous avoir des relations amicales avec vos collègues de
travail ? Partageriez-vous votre vie privée et familiale avec eux ?
4) Quand vous rencontrez quelqu’un que vous connaissez ou même
pendant une discussion, comment percevez/ressentez-vous un contact visuel
soutenu de la part de votre interlocuteur (amical, manque de respect…) ?
Est-ce la même chose si la personne est un ami ou non ?
5) Toujours dans le contexte de rencontre d’une personne (connue ou
pas), est-il nécessaire, voire inévitable de serrer la main à cette personne
pour débuter l’intéraction/discussion (si vous êtes une femme, mettez-vous
dans le contexte professionnel) ?
Si non, avez-vous d’autre manière de saluer ?
Si oui, que ressentez-vous si vous ne lui serrez pas la main ?
6) Quand vous communiquez, parlez-vous fort, utilisez-vous des gestes
(mains, bras, tête, épaules…) ?
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Si non, vous sentez-vous à l’aise en présence de personne communiquant
comme cela ?
Comment percevez-vous ce genre de comportement pour communiquer ?
Si oui, vous sentez-vous à l’aise en présence de personnes communiquant
plus calmement et de manière plus réfléchie ?
Comment percevez-vous ce genre de comportement pour communiquer ?
7) Quand vous êtes en désaccord avec un ami, avez-vous tendance à
argumenter pour montrer et soutenir votre point de vue ? Ou au contraire
avez-vous tendance à « calmer » la conversation et à éviter la confrontation
verbale ?
8) Pouvez-vous définir une ou plusieurs raison(s) à préférer l’une ou l’autre
tendance ? Qu’est-ce que ce genre de confrontation verbale vous fais
ressentir ? Comment le percevez-vous (bien, mal…) ?
9) Quand vous recevez une critique directe sur votre propos ou sur ce que
vous dîtes, vous sentez-vous offense et pensez que la personne vous
manqué de respect ? Si oui, comment cette critique devrait-être dîtes?
10) Quand vous voulez faire comprendre quelque chose à quelqu’un, estce que vous le dîtes directement ou plutôt indirectement ?
Pouvez-vous définir une raison ?
11) Accordez-vous beaucoup d’importance à la logique pour soutenir un
argument ? Est-ce la logique d’un argument qui en fait sa valeur ? Si non,
qu’est-ce qui en fait sa valeur ?
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12) Qu’est-ce que le haut niveau d’éducation de quelqu’un signifie pour
vous ?
Considérez-vous que le niveau d’éducation donne un statut de personne
capable et ayant de la connaissance spécialement dans le contexte
professionnel ?
13) Vous sentez-vous à l’aise avec tous ce qui est règles, lois, règlements
etc pour « contrôler » votre comportement ? Que pensez-vous de cela ?
Si non ou pas vraiment, pensez-vous à un autre moyen ?
14) Vous fixez-vous de propres objectifs, des dates limite, des emplois du
temps, pour travailler (notamment quand vous êtes/étiez en cours) ?
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APPENDIX III: Chinese focus-group questions
1) When you build a relationship, do you trust easily the other person? Or
does it require time to develop that trust?
What is the value of trust in relationship?
2) Still in the same context, do you ask private questions about family at the
first encounter or are you likely to ask this kind of questions later on?
3) Do you think building friendship with colleagues in your professional life?
Would you share your private, family life with them?
4) When meeting someone or even when talking, how do you perceive a
steady eye contact from the other (friendly, disrespect…? How does it make
you feel?
Is it the same if the person is a friend or not?
5) Still in the context of meeting someone (known or not), is a handshake
necessary, inevitable to start the interaction (if you are a girl, see yourself in a
business context)?
If no, do you use other kind of greetings?
If yes, how do you feel if the handshake does not occur?
6) When communicating, are you talking loud, using gestures (arms,
shoulders, head, eyebrows…)?
If no, do you feel comfortable with people communicating like this?
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What do you feel and/or how do you perceive such communication
If yes, do you feel comfortable with people communicating in a more calm
and reflective way? What do you feel and/or how do you perceive such
communication behavior?
7) When you disagree with a friend, are you likely to argue (not
aggressively) to show and defend your point of view? Or, on the contrary, you
seek “to calm” the conversation to avoid the verbal confrontation?
8) What does conflict (not aggressiveness) of point of views make you feel?
How do you perceive it (good, bad…)?
9) When you receive a direct critic about you or what you are saying, do
you feel offended and think the person is disrespectful towards you? If yes,
how this critic should be said?
10) When communicating and want to make someone understand
something, do you say it directly or rather indirectly?
Can you define a reason?
11) Do you give much importance to logic when you have to endorse a
point of view? Is that the logic of the argument, which gives the value to it? If
no, what does give this value?
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12) What does the age of a person mean to you? Do you behave
differently in front of an older, same age, younger person?
Which behavior do you expect from a younger person? What do you
associate with the age?
As Age seems to be an important factor and regulator of Chinese life and
manner to do business, to verify its impact on Chinese minds was required.
13) Do you feel okay when rules (laws, uni’s rules, company’s rules…) are
“controlling” your behavior? How do you perceive rules?
If not or not really, do you think about another way?
14) Do you use self-deadlines, schedules to work? Why yes or no?
Cyril BAZIN (2006)
APPENDIX IV: One-to-one interviews questions (English version)
1) Since when do you negotiate with Chinese?
2) Is it true that Chinese want to know a very good deal about you before
3) Are private questions notably about family asked? When are they asked,
at the beginning or after?
4) How do you then react? Can you easily talk about your private life with
your Chinese counterpart(s)?
5) When greeting a Chinese counterpart, do you systematically tend to
shake the hand of your Chinese counterpart? Do you give him a steady eye
contact while the greeting?
6) Do you think Chinese negotiators take a lot of time before starting the
actual negotiation?
If yes, do you then try to move the discussion towards the negotiation?
If you do not try, why do avoid doing so?
7) How do you express your disagreement to a Chinese counterpart?
Rather directly or indirectly?
Do you interrupt?
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Do you use body language (hands, arms, head, shoulders…) to endorse
your point of view?
8) Do illogical argument make you disagree easily? Does it often happen
with the Chinese counterparts?
9) When an agreement has been reached, do you give more importance to
the oral agreement or to the signed contract, which follows?
Do you consider a contract more as a guideline, which can be subject to
renegotiations afterwards or as a proof of mutual business obligations or a mix
of both?
10) Have you encountered cases when Chinese wanted to renegotiate
contract’s terms afterwards?
11) How do you perceive the intervention of a lawyer during a negotiation?
What the use of it?
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APPENDIX V: One-to-one interviews questions (French version)
1) Depuis combien de temps négociez-vous avec des chinois ?
2) Est-il vrai que les chinois veulent connaître le maximum de choses sur
vous avant de négocier ?
3) Est-ce que des questions à propos notamment de la famille sont
posées ? Quand sont-elles posées, au début ou après ?
4) Comment réagissez-vous par rapport à cela ? Pouvez-vous parler
facilement de votre vie privée et de votre famille avec votre/vos homologue(s)
Chinois ?
5) Lors de rencontres, avez-vous tendance à systématiquement vouloir
serrer la main de votre homologue Chinois ? Soutenez-vous le regard de
celui-ci pendant les salutations ?
6) Considérez-vous que les négociateurs Chinois prennent trop de temps
avant de débuter la véritable négociation ?
Si oui, essayez-vous dans ce cas de faire dériver la discussion vers le sujet
de négociation ? Pourquoi ?
Si vous ne tentez pas, pourquoi ?
7) Comment exprimez-vous votre désaccord face à un homologue
Chinois ? Plutôt directement ou indirectement ?
L’interrompez-vous ?
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Utilisez-vous le langage du corps (gestes de la main, bras, tête, épaules…)
pour appuyer votre point de vue ?
8) Est-ce que les arguments manquant de logique vous font contester
facilement ? Cela arrive-t-il souvent avec les homologues chinois ?
9) Quand un accord à été trouvé, donnez-vous plus d’importance à l’accord
oral ou au contrat signé qui suit ? Pourquoi ?
Considérez-vous un contrat tel un guide qui peut être sujet à des
renégociations ultérieures ou plutôt tel une preuve d’obligations commerciales
réciproques ou encore un mélange des deux ?
10) Avez-vous rencontré des cas où les Chinois voulaient renégocier les
termes du contrat après coup ?
11) Comment considérez-vous l’intervention d’un avocat lors d’une
négociation ?
l’utilité ?
Pourquoi ?
Cyril BAZIN (2006)
Personal reflexion
Concerning exclusively the dissertation’s topic, it was interesting to me in
the sense that I studied my own culture. It made me realized true aspects that
I had never paid attention to before, such as the relish to debate with people,
to interrupt the interlocutor etc.
Also, having the willing to go to live in China and to have a work experience
there, it made me learn that my way of behaving could be perceived differently
and even badly by the Chinese.
Regarding what I have learnt doing this dissertation, I discovered out that
carrying primary data research is very time consuming and not that easy. I
consider that a more “professional” research aiming to collect many
information from much more perspectives would take a very long time to carry
out but also to analyze the outcomes.
Indeed, I was surprised by the time I have spent to select the information
and to actually analyze them. I thought about three or four days, but actually it
took me at least a week.
Also, I feel a bit lucky concerning the one-to-one interviews. Whereas the
focus groups were easy to organize as participants were friends, the one-toone interviews required professional people I did not really know. And what
happened with the third potential participants could have definitely occurred
with the two.
To me, it was almost taken-for-granted that they were going to help me but
when the third did not reply to me, I then considered the help of the two others
interviewees highly valuable and I have been very grateful to them.
If I would have to redo the dissertation, I would approach differently the
research and notably the sources I aim to get information from. I would ensure
myself to be able to “use” those sources by building an even more stronger
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Also, even I am pretty happy how I managed my time, I could have done
better notably by being aware of the real time I would have to spend for the
Finally, I would draft my abstract along the advancement of my dissertation.