Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Catherine Kwantes

Second Advisor

Wendi Adair

Third Advisor

Greg Chung-Yan


Social sciences, Psychology, Conflict management, Organizational power, Social culture




Understanding workplace interactions is crucial for both the well-being of the organization as well as the employees working within the organization. Highly influenced by power (the resources available to exert influence) and social culture (shared values), workplace interactions have the potential to either help or hinder work relationships. Exploring why individuals choose to interact in particular ways, and the specific roles of power bases and cultural orientation in this choice, will help to better understand why some interactions can go awry and conflict can result. This study examined one potential conflict that might occur between an employee and a supervisor and explored the roles of power base preference, cultural orientation, and choice of conflict strategy with respect to this scenario. As most of the existing research in this area has explored the distinct effects of each of these variables without addressing the associations between them, the present study focused on the interrelationships that exist among them. Three hundred and sixty eight participants completed an online survey comprised of measures of power bases (Hinkin & Schriesheim, 1989), cultural orientation (Dorfman & Howell, 1988; Singelis, Triandis, Bhawuk, & Gelfand, 1995), and conflict strategies (Rahim, 1983). The obtained findings partially supported the hypotheses. Results suggested a significant amount of association among the culture-, power-, and conflict-based variables that exists along dimensions considered instrumental and relational in nature, separating the aforementioned variables into those that are results-oriented and those that are relationship-oriented. In addition, power base preference was found to be a better predictor of conflict strategy preference as compared with cultural orientation. The findings also suggested that power base preference differentially mediated the relation between cultural orientation and choice of conflict strategy such that preferences for reward and coercive power partially mediated the association between vertical individualism and preference for dominating (all demonstrating instrumentality through a focus on the self); whereas, preference for expert power partially mediated the association between horizontal collectivism and preference for integrating (all demonstrating relationality through a focus on others). Both theoretical and practical implications are considered within the context of contemporary organizational behaviour theory.