From “Good day” to “Sign here”: Norms Shaping Negotiations Within a Face Culture

Document Type


Publication Date



Using discourse analysis, we examine how culture shapes the dynamics and outcome of wage negotiations. With an intracultural lens, we look at how two opposing groups that share one overarching culture maximize group gains and achieve a bargaining agreement. We analysed audio recordings of collective bargaining meetings between labor and management negotiators of a multinational beverage company in the Philippines. Consistent with the claims of previous studies, negotiation between labor and management within this culture reflected low trust. Joint gains were however achieved through face dynamics that thwarted the impact of low trust bargaining. Specifically, our discursive analysis shows how utterances contain justifications, demands, rejections and threats. However, such apparently contentious talks are embedded in local language that conveys respect for authority, mixed with efforts to maintain harmony. These reflections of face culture in the bargaining process help shift the negotiations from a contentious to a collaborative and successful problem-solving process.