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Title: Relational management in professional intercultural interaction : Chinese officials' encounters with American and British professionals
Author: Wang, Jiayi
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Professional intercultural communication is of growing importance in today’s globalising world. This study analyses the dynamics of relating that occurred between Chinese officials and American officials and other professionals during a three-week delegation visit to the USA. Drawing on concepts and frameworks in pragmatics, sociolinguistics, cross-cultural psychology, communication studies and translation studies, it takes a data-driven approach to explore Chinese officials’ professional interaction with American/British professionals. This kind of interaction, which involved government officials, has rarely been studied before. During the delegation visit, over twenty authentic professional intercultural events including formal meetings and banquets were recorded in six major cities in the USA. Relational issues and the interactants’ interpretations of these issues from both sides were extracted and examined from twenty-hour-long video recordings and two-hour-long audio recordings of official interaction, fifteen-thousand-word notes of the delegation’s evening meetings where they reflected on the day’s events, forty-one individual post-event and post-trip interviews with the Chinese and fourteen open-ended questionnaire responses from the Americans. Taking a first order approach, I place the interactants’ perspectives at the core and significantly reduce my interference by starting from the natural and spontaneous reflections made by the participants in the evening meetings. I then check the generality of the findings by comparing them with a second dataset which comprises eighty-six narrative accounts of Chinese-non-Chinese professional communication reported by thirty-seven Chinese officials and three businesspeople. My analysis takes a developmental perspective, and reveals the complexities of relational management as it unfolds over time. A number of different norms and interactional principles emerge, and my investigation of relational management combines motivational (e.g., Rapport Management theory) and descriptive aspects (e.g., dialectical theory). The study contributes to our understanding of the conceptualization and operationalization of the key concepts face, politeness and relations as well as the major practical concerns of gifts, hosting and interactional styles, including language and interpreting. For example, the findings suggest that while the concepts face, politeness, guanxi and the “relational”, i.e., relations/relationships/relating, tend to be conflated and remain largely entangled in the literature, all of them are distinguishable. First, face and politeness are conceptually distinct, and their connection is not as strong as we have assumed. Second, while both face and guanxi can be viewed as enduring yet not static entities, they are two separate concepts. Guanxi work is much broader than facework and face is only one of the major motivations behind it. Yet guanxi dynamics frequently have face implications. Face can be gained when guanxi goes well and is very likely to be lost when it goes wrong. Additionally, face and the “relational” are not synonymous. In spite of the emerging call for a relational study of face, it is not a property of a relationship and merely analysing it in talk-in-interaction is inadequate.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HF Commerce ; P Philology. Linguistics