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Last updated February 14, 2001


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Face Negotiation

Explanation of Theory: "Members of collectivistic, high-context cultures have concerns for mutual face and inclusion that lead them to manage conflict with another person by avoiding, obliging, or compromising. Because of concerns for self-face and autonomy, people from individualistic, low-context cultures manage conflict by dominating or through problem solving" (Griffin, p. 496).

Theorists: Stella Ting-Toomey


Primary Article:Stella Ting-Toomey, "Toward a Theory of Conflict and Culture," in Communication, Culture & Organizational processes, William B. Gudykunst, L.P. Steward, and Stella Ting-Toomey (eds.), Sage, Beverly Hills, California, 1985, pg. 71-86

Individual Interpretations:Whenever two people meet for the first time, there is uncertainty accompanied by feelings of uneasiness known as anxiety.  These feelings are heightened whenever there is an intercultural encounter between.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumptions:n/a

Epistemological Assumptions:n/a

Axiological Assumptions:n/a

Critique:1.  Explanatory:  Face-Negotiation has excellent explanatory power, it explains human behavior  in cross-cultural communication and explains differences in high and low context cutlures.
2. Predictability:  Face Negotiation is predictive because it forecasts what will happen in all situations regaurding intercultural encounters between different context cultures
3. Parsimony:  Face negotiation gets complex when describing the "four faces of face" and how different context cultures use/ respect each one. 
4. Falsafiability:  This theory is testable through textual analysis and ethnographic research
5. Practicality: Face Negotiation is extremely useful when analyzing cross cultural communication

Ideas and Implications:
Face Negotiation Theory is an excellent tool for multinational corporations who encompass many different cultures into their one organization.  It is also good for merging companies (ie Toyota) and international communication in general, the UN for example

 Toyota moves to Kentucky creating many new jobs and new cars for the commonwealth.  The primarily Japanese cultured company places high revere on the collective, that is to say they are high context culture.  In direct contrast, is the American low context culture valuing individualism.  The American workers must learn to deal with and respect a management that values collectivism while they, personally, value individualism.

Relevant Research:
 Rogan, R.G., & Hammer, M.R. (1994).  Crisis Negotiations: A preliminary investigation of facework in naturalistic conflict discourse.  Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

     Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  N/A

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 276-277

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. 406-419

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 419-431

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. N/A

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. 361-374

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A