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Intercultural Conflict Styles


The current paper aims at discussing the peculiarities of the Intercultural Conflict Style model and inventory offered by Hammer in Moodian’s book. There are four main styles defined by the author: discussion, accommodation, engagement, and dynamic. Each style is a good chance to explain how conflict is developed, what the reasons for such conflict, and what the methods of its solution are. People need to have a good guide and a list of special code words to realize that any conflict is only a period of human weakness that may be improved with time. Emotions and communication are the two important factors of every conflict that cannot be neglected. Therefore, Hammer and many other researchers focus on these concerns to explain how emotions and communication may be combined and lead to sufficient results in developing the relations of different types with the representatives of different cultures.

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Chapter 17 in Moodian’s book discusses the ways of how different intercultural conflicts have and may be solved on the basis of a properly developed Intercultural Conflict Style (ICS) model and inventory. Its author, Hammer (2009), admits that conflict is one of the forms of “social interaction in which substantive disagreements arise between two or more individuals” (p. 222). He evaluates conflict and its possible methods of solution from a variety of perspectives and introduces a dual concern model considering its possible forms and explanations. Each conflict style has its own peculiarities and grounds, and people have to know and understand all of them to be ready to find the most successful and effective way out of a conflict (Healey, 2012). The current paper aims at analyzing the dual concern model offered by Hammer, discussing the situations with different intercultural conflict styles (discussion, engagement, accommodation, and dynamics), and introducing a list of codewords applicable to all styles mentioned.

The essence of Dual Concern Model

In the chapter, the author introduces two types of dual concern model by means of which it is possible to analyze and study conflicts as they are. In the beginning, the work of Pruitt and Carnevale is mentioned with their attempt to introduce such concerns like problem-solving (characterized by high concerns for personal and others’ goals), contending (demonstrates a high concern for personal goals and a low concern for others’ goals), yielding (paying more attention to the goals of the others then to the personal goals), and avoiding (no attention is paid either to own goals or to others’ goals) as the main conflict styles.

However, this model is free from an important culturally generalized concern, and therefore, Hammer underlines the importance of a new dual model within the frames of which it is possible to consider various intercultural conflict styles. The new model consists of the following types: discussion (direct communication and restraint of emotions are inherent), engagement (direct communication, evaluation, and emotions are used), accommodation (indirect methods and restrained emotions are characterized), and, finally, dynamic (emotional intense and indirect messages are observed).

Situations with Different Intercultural Conflict Styles

There are situations that help to comprehend the true essence of each type of conflict and choose the most appropriate solution regarding the demands and expectations of the conflicting parties. For example, Croucher’s research (2011) introduces the situation when people of different religions (Christian and Muslim) are not able to come to one conclusion as the Muslims like to find compromises (problem-solving or even yielding sometimes that leads to discussions and further accommodation), and the Christians like to dominate in all spheres (contending mode that is characterized by a dynamic style of conflict). Regarding the ICS model, it is possible to offer the parties direct communication and even the attraction of a third party to divide the spheres of influence and set the rules that have to be followed.

The conflict between young male Arabs and Americans offered by Khakimova, Zang, and Hall (2012) introduces two other forms of the conflict based on cultural diversity. The Arabs are the nation with its own rules and traditions that other countries are not allowed to touch. Therefore, it seems to be a contending or even avoiding model that leads to the engagement style of conflict and the possibility to be solved creating the boundaries and providing explanations. The American young men do not like to care too much about their cultural identities. What they do care about is their personal comfort and satisfaction of their needs. This is why they serve as the best example of the group that likes to avoid misunderstandings and accommodate or be engaged with the conditions set. The conflict between such groups is of the emotional expression style and can be solved by means of a third party or a direct personal emotionally-colored communication (Khakimova et al., 2012).

Code Words” about Different Styles

Regarding the situations and explanations given to different intercultural conflict-resolution styles, the following codewords may be offered to each of them:

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  • Discussion: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” (Hammer, 2009, p. 226), Mr. Confidence, give me an argument, get ready to discuss it, etc.
  • Engagement: “What is nearest the mouth is nearest the heart” (Hammer, 2009, p. 226), speak emotionally, put everything on the table, etc.
  • Accommodation: “Hear one and understand 10” (Hammer, 2009, 226), listen and remember, mask to control, hide the truth.
  • Dynamic: egoist, offender, dangerously explosive, hyperbolic, etc.


In general, each conflict based on cultural diversity and the inability to find a required consensus has its own peculiarities and explanations. It is wrong to believe that even the most emotionally-colored conflicts cannot be solved with time. People are smart indeed to use their best skills and choose the most efficient way out. The ICS model and inventory offered by Hammer is a unique chance to study conflicts from a variety of perspectives and consider the role of emotions and communication in the process.


Croucher, S. (2011). Muslim and Christian conflict styles in Western Europe”. International Journal of Conflict Management, 22(1), 60-74.

Hammer, M. (2009). Solving problems and resolving conflict using the intercultural conflict style model and inventory. In M.A. Moodian (Eds.), Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Exploring the cross-cultural dynamics within organizations (pp. 219-232). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Healey, J.F. (2012). Diversity and society: Race, ethnicity, and gender. Thousand Oaks, C: Sage Publications.

Khakimova, L., Zang, Y.B., & Hall, J.A. (2012). Conflict management styles: The role of ethnic identity and self-construal among young male Arabs and Americans. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 41(1), 37-57.

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