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Descriptive Norms as Carriers of Culture in Negotiation1

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image of International Negotiation

Research on culture and negotiation is critical for expanding theories of negotiation beyond Western cultures and for helping people to manage their interdependence in a world of increasing global threats and opportunities. Despite progress of understanding cultural influences on negotiation, research is limited in that it portrays a static and decontextualized view of culture and ignores cultural dynamics. The almost exclusive focus on main effects of culture in negotiation has its roots in a subjectivist approach to culture which has prioritized the study of values, or trans-situational goals. In this article, we discuss the descriptive norms approach to culture and its promise for the study of culture and negotiation. A descriptive norms approach highlights the dynamics of culture in negotiation (i.e., the conditions under which culture effects become amplified, reduced, or even reversed), it identifies new empirical mediating mechanisms for cultural effects, and it sheds new light into understanding cultural competence in intercultural negotiations.

Affiliations: 1: Email:; 2: Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University 2001 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208 USA


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