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Hello, this is Prof. Jehn from Melbourne
Business School, the University of
Melbourne, and I'm going to be talking
today about asymmetry of perceptions, and
how that impacts emotions,
cognitions and conflict.
I just like to acknowledge
the many collaborators I have,
that have been working
on this project with me.
First, I wanted to tell you a bit
about myself with a research overview.
I study different topics, my main one
has been conflict and group performance.
I've also done research on diversity and
that came out of the research
with my PhD students.
I myself was looking at conflict and
the outcomes of that, and
I had some very smart PhD students that
said "what leads to conflict?" and
I said "I'm not worried about that, I want
to look at the outcomes of conflict".
I realized that they were
on the right track, and
we needed to look at the antecedents
as well, of conflict.
So I got into a line of research
on diversity and fault-lines,
regarding group composition.
I also have a side-line on ethics and
dishonesty in organizations and
groups, and in the airline industry and
some others as well.
The final topic I want to mention
is my work on bicultural groups.
There's been quite some research
on comparative nationalities,
looking at how Americans may deal
with conflict different than Chinese,
but my interest was always in what
happens when the people are sitting at
the same table, the Americans and Chinese.
So I've looked at joint ventures,
Sino-American joint ventures,
as well as Russia, Argentina and some of
these others, and how they interact when
they're sitting at the same table, and
how they perceive things differently.
This was research from long ago, but
was one of the first hints at what
I'm going to talk about today,
which is asymmetry of perceptions.
A story to go with this is,
it was actually a manipulation check.
We had collected data from Chinese and
American managers, and
we asked them about conflicts.
These are people working in the same group
setting, day-to-day they are managing
the joint venture, and
we said "tell us about your conflicts".
We were reading through this, I was a PhD
student at the time, and we were reading
through this and I thought "this
doesn't sound like a conflict to me".
I went to my advisor and
she said "you know,
maybe that's just a cultural difference".
I said, "we need to check this, 'cause we
can't go on to the next step until we find
out, does everybody perceive
conflict in the same way?".
So we translated and back-translated all
the different incidences of conflict that
they gave us, and we had then another set
of managers, both Chinese and American,
go through reading the scenarios and
saying just 'this is conflict, yes or no'.
One of my most interesting findings,
was based on this kind
of manipulation check.
What we found was that
the Chinese manager said "yes,
this is a conflict" and then
the American managers said "yes or no,
this is a conflict,
this is not a conflict".
What we found is the overlap
where the Chinese and
the Americans both said "yes,
this is a conflict in our group,
I perceive this as an issue",
was astonishing to me.
It was less than 20%,
which meant to us that 80% of the time,
one person is perceiving
conflict in the group, and
the other are saying "no,
there's no problem here".
That was one of the first instances
that we found of asymmetric perceptions
within a group, and that's what
I'll be talking about more today.
I use many different methods,
I do field studies, (surveys,
archival data), I also do research in
the lab where I can control what I want to
manipulate (the asymmetry of perceptions
or the level of conflict, etc) and
I've also done some ethnographic studies
to look at things more in depth.