Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Business

First Advisor

Dr. Ercan G. Nasif

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan L. Kirby

Third Advisor

Dr. Jose A. Pagan


The growing interdependence in the global economic and political arena is resulting in accelerated growth in cross-national commercial relationships. Since some form of negotiation precedes most commercial activities and relationships, the topic of cross-cultural negotiation is of crucial importance to academicians, practitioners, and policy formulators. Despite its importance, research on cross-cultural business negotiation has not been very systematic and most of the empirical studies lack the explanatory power that is necessary for theory building. This study attempts to overcome this shortcoming by systematically linking different dimensions of national culture with different types of negotiation behavior.

This dissertation studies the relationship between different dimensions of national cultures identified by Triandis (1972), Hall (1960, 1973, 1976), and Hofstede (1980, 1981) and the level of trust that negotiators repose on their opponents during negotiations. In this study, trust is deemed to be a mediating variable through which different dimensions of culture influence ethical negotiation behavior in international negotiations. The cultural dimensions being investigated include the collectivism-individualism, the low-context-high-context, the small-versus large-power distance, and the strong-versus weak-uncertainty avoidance dimensions. The study draws from the literature of anthropology, management, psychology, sociology, ethics, cross-cultural management, conflict resolution, relationship marketing, and international business. The intent of this dissertation is to investigate and provide explanations as to how negotiators perceive and conduct their ethical behavior in cross-cultural negotiations and how trust (or the lack thereof) affects a negotiator's bargaining tactics with a foreigner as opposed to a negotiator from his/her home country.

To empirically investigate the relationships among culture, trust, and negotiation behavior, the study examines the attitude of subjects from Canada, Mexico, and the USA—the member countries of the NAFTA. Based on a comprehensive literature review, this study proposes a model showing the relationship among culture, trust, and ethical negotiation behavior. Based on this model, labeled as the CTB model, the study proposes seven hypotheses which are subsequently tested. Prior to the main study, two pre-tests were conducted to validate the instrument.

Statistical analyses of 225 responses received from business people from Canada, Mexico, and the USA, who have experience in international business and negotiations, suggest that the national culture plays an important role in determining the level of trust that a negotiator is likely to place in a foreign negotiator relative to a home-country negotiator. The findings also suggest a negative relation between the level of trust and various questionable negotiation tactics. To gain further insight into the intricacies of negotiation behavior, quantitative analyses of data were supplemented by a series of interviews with cross-cultural negotiation experts. The overall findings suggest that the negotiation behavior of Canadian and US business people are not likely to vary significantly between their intra-cultural and cross-cultural negotiations. However, the negotiation behavior of Mexican business people is likely to vary significantly across their intra-cultural and cross-cultural negotiations. The study also indicates that prior relationships play a far more important role in Mexico than in Canada and in the USA. Finally, the study discusses managerial and research implications of the findings and provides directions for future research.


Copyright 1999 Mohammad Niamat Elahee. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American