The Tao of coopetition in organizations: culture and categorization of competitive behaviors in teams and working relationships
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This dissertation provides a cultural-cognitive perspective on the relationship between cooperation and competition within organizations. Instead of explicitly defining the relationship between cooperation and competition, I examine lay beliefs about the relationship and the impact of these beliefs on perceptions and behavior. This dissertation consists of two studies. In the first study, I examine the role of peoples’ categorization of competitive behaviors as cooperative or non-cooperative in teams. I assess the influence of dialectical reasoning, a culturally-shaped reasoning style, on the categorization of competitive behaviors and the reaction to competitive behaviors within teams. I test my predictions with a laboratory experiment with participants in the US and China. The analyses from this study reveal cultural differences in perceptual and behavioral reactions to competitive behaviors, with differences partially attributed to reasoning style and categorization. In the second study, I examine the role of people’s categorization of competitive behaviors as cooperative or non-cooperative in working relationships. I assess the influence of culture and categorization on people’s ego-centric network of working relationships. I test my predictions with a survey of working professionals in the US and China. The analyses from this study demonstrate that people who categorize certain competitive behaviors as cooperative are more likely to be more cooperative with people they are more competitive with instead of having exclusively cooperative or competitive relationships. The analyses also reveal national cultural differences in people’s networks of working relationships that are partially attributable to categorization of competitive behaviors. By empirically connecting culture and reasoning style to cooperative and competitive behavior in teams and working relationships, this research enhances our understanding of fundamental aspects of organizations, suggesting a new approach to examining the influence of societal factors in behavior within organizations.