Face, Harmony, and Social Structure: An Analysis of Organizational Behavior across Cultures

Face, Harmony, and Social Structure: An Analysis of Organizational Behavior across Cultures

Face, Harmony, and Social Structure: An Analysis of Organizational Behavior across Cultures

Face, Harmony, and Social Structure: An Analysis of Organizational Behavior across Cultures

Synopsis

Face, Harmony, and Social Structure continues author P. Christopher Earley's investigations of the differences among people within organizations in different cultures. In this study, Earley develops a mid-range theory of individual behaviour, self-concept, and interpersonal process in predicting cultural differences in organizational settings. This work represents a new theory of self-presentation and face within a cross-cultural context, integrating a cross-level approach ranging from the individual to the organization and to the societal levels of discussion.

Excerpt

As people interact with one another throughout their lives, a common thread is witnessed regardless of their culture, social context, organizational setting, participants involved, et cetera. This thread, face, reflects the struggle that people engage in for the purpose of self-definition and understanding. That is, a universal search for answering that age-old question of purpose and existence continues to haunt people's paths in life. At least one component, a central and critical one, of this endless search is a positioning of self relative to others in a social setting. Face is at the heart of social behavior, and it provides a consistent linking mechanism to understand organizational behavior across cultures. In this book, I present a new conceptualization of face based on the existing literature pioneered by David Yau-Fai Ho, Hsien C. Hu, Erving Goffman, and Stella Ting-Toomey, among others. The approach I take diverges from the existing thinking on this construct in a number of ways that I describe in this book. For instance, I do not view face purely as a social construction or an exclusive product of social discourse. In placing a heavy emphasis on face as a purely social phenomenon, other researchers have confused the type of face with its source. In a critical way, face is an extension of self in a real or imagined social context.

The impetus for my approach to face and self is based on a number of influences. First, in my earlier work with Miriam Erez, we sought to define fundamental motives of the self that guide people's actions. In some regards, our model placed a great deal of emphasis on the self to the general neglect of the self-in-context. That is to say, people were examined as self-guided entities stripped of the general social setting in which they functioned. This is an exaggeration inasmuch as we attempted to link the self-concept (based on three base motives) to societal context defined by two primary cultural dimensions: power distance and individualism-collectivism.

Our purpose, however, was without question to examine cross-cultural, organizational behavior from an individual's personal viewpoint. To this end, we provided a starting point for the work contained within this volume. My purpose in this book . . .

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