Behavioral Mimicry in Chinese and Canadian Negotiations: Frequency, Duration and Impact

AbstractNegotiation literature stresses the importance of mimicry in improving relational and economic outcomes. Yet, there is a dearth of work examining how culture influences the display and impact of mimicry in negotiations. In this research, we systematically coded behavioral mimicry among Chinese and Canadian dyadic, intracultural, video-taped negotiations. Using cultural theories of high/low context communication, and individualism/collectivism, we predicted and found that low-context, individualistic Canadian negotiators were more direct in their behavioral mimicry by exhibiting higher frequency of postural mimicry, than Chinese negotiators. In contrast, Chinese negotiators were more indirect in their displays of mimicry via longer durations of mirrored postures. Interestingly, gender moderated the effects of culture on the frequency and duration of mimicry. Mimicry led to higher joint gains, only when dyads did not attend to the indirect meanings of the mimicked behaviors. We discuss implications of behavioral mimicry in cross-cultural negotiations.

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