China has become one of the most important economies in the global market, but negotiating with the Chinese remains a great challenge for most Westerners. This study is to help better understand Chinese business negotiation styles with an indigenous perspective by exploring the impact of Confucian ideal personality on business negotiation process in China. This study tests the effects of three key components of Confucian ideal personality—benevolence (Ren), wisdom (Zhi), and courage (Yong) on Chinese negotiation behaviors and further on negotiation outcomes with 200 business students in a simulated negotiation exercise. The results support the significant effects of benevolence and courage on Chinese business negotiation styles but wisdom is not found to have any significant impact in China. The overall pattern of the results substantiates the strong influence of Confucianism on Chinese negotiation styles, and provides an important supplement to negotiation theories developed in the West.
Bibliographical noteThis study is partially supported by a Standard Research Grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC #410-2009-0271) to the first author.