Roads to Research with Zhenyi Li


Please join us for a Roads to Research presentation with Zhenyi Li

Non-assertiveness: A Misleading Concept in Cross-cultural Human Resources Management 

Li, Z. (2018). Non-assertiveness: A misleading concept in cross-cultural human resources management. In A. Yan, B. Zheng, & M. Sunuodula  (Eds.) The wisdom in Chinese philosophy and its application in modern management. (pp. 309-320). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

In this presentation, I will discuss a common misleading concept in cross-cultural human resources management literature, namely, non-assertiveness is not preferred for a person to advance their career regardless of that person's culture or communication style. On one hand, non-assertiveness is usually regarded as a barrier for minorities to advance at work (Catalyst 2003), for women to reach the top in leadership (Eagly and Carli 2007), for organizations to be just (Kandola 2009), for employees to negatively stereotype ethnic colleagues (Madon et al. 2001), and for colleagues not able to understand each other (Nisbett 2003, p. 198). On the other hand, non-assertiveness is viewed as a behavioral problem (Cabezas 1980; Minami 1980) or as communication apprehension (Ayres et al. 1998) to be fixed. Training programs and self-development books for asserting oneself at work have been popular (e.g., Zimmerman and Luecke 2010). I will address reasons that cause such a misunderstanding through an intercultural communication perspective. The Chinese modesty-based career advancement style (Eagly and Chin, 2010; Fernandez, 2004) is highlighted with historical examples and explained through Edward T. Hall (1976)’s high versus low context communication styles. Strategies for more inclusive human resources management are presented for discussion at the end of this presentation. 

Please bring your lunch. Cookies and coffee will be provided.

Research Services gratefully acknowledges the funding support of the Research Support Fund (RSF) in the development of this initiative. The RSF is administered by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.