Role Of Culture In Conflict Resolution – Home > Free Essays > Culture > Cultural Issues > Can Culture Be a Barrier to Conflict Resolution?
According to Tidwell (2001), conflicts inevitably occur during the interaction of individuals. Subsequently, various strategies and methods aimed at solving such conflicts were developed. Negotiation and negotiation are some of the conflict resolution techniques that have been developed. The purpose of these methods is to reduce the negative consequences that may result from such conflicts.
Role Of Culture In Conflict Resolution
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Bercovitch and Jackson (2009) define conflict resolution as including a variety of formal and informal activities undertaken by parties involved in a conflict to limit the negative effects associated with conflicts. Some of the elements that determine individuals’ commitment to conflict resolution include, but are not limited to, agreements, pacts, and handshakes.
Negotiation is among the most used methods of conflict resolution in the international environment. Despite the determination of individuals to resolve conflicts, negotiations can fail. There are many reasons that have been put forward to explain why the negotiation process failed. One of these reasons is related to the existence of cultural differences.
According to Avruch (1998), “culture is one of the most important characteristics of all human societies and perhaps an aspect of all social relations” (p. 24). Avruch (1998) further argued that culture is one of the main obstacles to conflict resolution. The effects of culture are manifested especially in the resolution of conflicts in the international context.
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The aim of this paper is to explore how culture hinders conflict resolution. The two main aspects analyzed in the paper relate to communication and the decision-making process. In addition, the paper also explores how to deal with culture to improve intercultural conflict resolution.
Culture refers to the beliefs, values, and norms shared by a particular group of individuals. Carey (2006) argues that culture can be defined as encompassing an area of shared meaning. Culture gives individuals a sense of identity. Understanding the cultural differences that exist between the individuals or parties involved in the conflict is important in conflict resolution.
This is due to the fact that such an understanding gives the parties responsible for conflict resolution an idea of the most effective framework for conflict resolution. Carey (2006) adds that culture has a great influence on the nature of the relationship formed between the parties involved in the conflict.
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The meaning of cultural influences varies from one context to another. In the conflict resolution process, it is important that the parties involved, such as negotiators, understand the prevailing culture.
This is due to the fact that misunderstanding of cultural differences can lead to stereotypes, creating negative projections, which causes conflicts. Furthermore, it is primarily up to the parties involved in the conflict to have enough interactive experiences to enable them to relate to each other.
Tidwell (2001) argues that the violation of cultural expectations in the conflict resolution process increases the intensity of the conflict. According to LeBaron (2003), there is a strong and positive relationship between culture and conflict. Despite the high degree of correlation between culture and conflict, conflict resolution scholars have over the years ignored culture as one of the dimensions of conflict management.
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Culture is closely related to conflicts. It follows from the fact that conflicts arise from interpersonal relationships. According to Ferrara (2008), culture influences the way we try to resolve conflicts. For this reason, it can be argued that culture is an important part of conflict resolution.
Some of the conflicts that can be seen in modern society, such as the India-Pakistan and Palestine-Israel conflicts, are not only about freedom and territorial boundaries. However, they describe deep cultural issues such as representation, recognition and representation.
Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2012) argue that culture cannot be separated from conflict despite the fact that it is not itself the cause of conflict. In conflict situations, culture shapes the behavior, attitudes and perspectives of individuals.
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Century, culture was considered one of the main dimensions of conflict management (Bercovitch & Jackson). Culture plays a critical role in the negotiation and negotiation process.
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Therefore, it is important for negotiators to be aware of cultural meanings and symbols. According to Bercovitch and Jackson (2009), culture can act as a resource in conflict resolution and thereby promote peace. Vice versa; culture can be a barrier to reaching a negotiated agreement.
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Given the role of culture in the conflict resolution process, it is important to combine the most effective response plans. One aspect to consider when dealing with conflicts is related to effective communication. However, Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel (2009) argue that culture can hinder conflict resolution by limiting effective communication.
According to Jacoby (2007), conflict management in different cultures is a challenging task. It results from existing differences regarding the level of thinking, behavior and language.
The parties involved in the mediation process may not understand the feelings of the disputing parties. This can lead to confusion among brokers. Conflict resolution is only possible through an effective interpersonal communication process (West & Turner 2011).
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To achieve this goal, parties responsible for conflict resolution must develop sufficient cultural fluency. One of the ways in which they can achieve this is by becoming familiar with the communication processes, identities, meanings and roles of the cultures involved.
This will help minimize conflicts. To understand cultural differences, it is important to consider four main areas which include;
Anticipation refers to the process of becoming familiar with how culture shapes “common sense.” On the other hand, rootedness requires an appreciation of deep-seated cultural assumptions, while expressiveness refers to the process of developing empathy for other people’s feelings. Finally, the ability to navigate requires the development of synergistic cooperation between the individuals or parties involved in the conflict.
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There are many theories that explain the relationship between culture and communication. One of these theories is the speech code theory (Koontz & Weihrich 2010). The theory asserts that interpersonal communication depends on the effectiveness with which the parties involved understand existing norms, values, and meanings.
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In addition, the theory also assumes that culture shapes communication. According to Earley and Ang (2003), a speech code consists of a system of rules, regulations, assumptions and symbols that are integrated into the communication process to generate meaning.
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The theory further states that people develop speech codes through interaction in various situations. The meanings generated through such interactions are flexible and complex. Furthermore, the speech codes produced differ in different situations and may lead to the construction of different meanings (Singh, Jain & Shakla 2010).
In addition to the above relationship, communication reflects culture. This is demonstrated by the fact that speech codes are developed from culture and form the basis of the communication process. Rahim (2011) argues that “because contexts influence the meaning of communicative behavior, different cultures have unique speech codes” (p. 50).
Culture can hinder effective communication in the negotiation process. Tidwell (2001) claims that effective communication must be ensured in the conflict resolution process. This means that the process of conflict resolution cannot proceed without effective communication (Tidwell 2001). Communication affects the conflict resolution process in three main ways.
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First, it affects the level of cooperation between the parties involved in the conflict. This is done through the coordination developed between the parties involved. Poor coordination can lead to failure of negotiation processes (Mohammed & White 2008).
Although this is a difficult negotiation process, it can be made possible by encouraging the parties involved to cooperate. This is only possible if effective communication is involved. Finally, the will to resolve the conflict is in most cases created and maintained through effective communication.
Nevertheless, culture can hinder communication in many ways. First, culture limits the effectiveness of symbolization and worldview development (Carey 2006). Symbols have different meanings in different cultures. Consequently, it is important that the parties involved understand the meaning of the symbols. Symbols are also used to communicate and maintain self-other world conceptions and identities across generations.
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For example, North Americans may associate the Nazi swastika symbol with Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and concentration camps. Despite the fact that culture consists of shared meanings that are evidenced through symbols, some cultures may interpret certain symbols differently.
Therefore, communication across cultures is a very difficult task (Koutoukidis 2013). This is due to the fact that each culture is characterized by unique symbols, rules and regulations that need to be respected and effectively interpreted in order to get the right meaning.
Cultural differences can also lead to the creation of different forms
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