Preferences for third-party help in workplace conflict: A cross-cultural comparison of Chinese and Dutch employees

Ellen Giebels, H. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study examines conflict parties’ preferences for different types of third-party help and how this may be influenced by cultural differences in terms of individualism/ collectivism. We focus our analysis on process-related nonsubstantive help and identify three types of thirdparty help in interpersonal conflict situations: relational help, procedural help, and emotional help. In a pilot study with Chinese and Dutch students (N = 93), we first developed and validated three new scales to measure preferences for the three types of third-party help. To further test specific hypotheses we used another sample of Dutch and Hong Kong Chinese bank employees (N = 71). In line with our expectations, Chinese employees report a higher preference for relational help, while Dutch employees report a higher preference for emotional help. In terms of procedural help, there was no significant difference between Dutch and Chinese employees. Furthermore, additional analyses revealed a gender effect on the preference for emotional help, showing that—regardless of their cultural background—females prefer this type of third-party help more, presumably because they experience more conflict stress.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)344-362
JournalNegotiation and conflict management research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • IR-68569
  • METIS-258569

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