To accommodate or not to accommodate: The impact of knowledge of culture and messenger nationality on the accommodation process: A cross-cultural analysis from an American perspective.

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Cultural accommodation – the process in which individuals adapt to the values and beliefs of the conversation partner’s culture in the public/business sphere, while in private spheres, the parent culture is maintained – is becoming more important in a world that is globalizing (Baden & Ahluwalia 2008). Nevertheless, adapting one’s communication to the culture of someone else is not as simple as it seems. Although previous research has shown that having more knowledge of the conversation partner’s language enhances accommodating behavior, little research has looked at the effect of cultural knowledge (Beebe & Giles, 2009; Romera & Elordieta, 2013). Through an experimental survey, this research closes that gap by investigating whether having more knowledge about the American and Chinese culture increases the chances of cultural accommodation in a business context. Findings indicated that messenger nationality indeed has a significant main effect on accommodation. The responses from participants exposed to an American condition showed they chose less Chinese-like responses than participants exposed to the Chinese conditions (accommodation). Even though cultural knowledge did not have a significant main effect on accommodation, further research into this effect showed that Chinese-like responses were chosen more frequently in the Chinese condition with context compared to participants exposed to a Chinese condition without context. This finding also explains the significant interaction effect between messenger nationality and cultural knowledge. These findings provide the field of business communication with new insights on communicational behavior considering the role of culture and nationality. Moreover, it will contribute to the improvement of internal business communication that is becoming more relevant in companies that are hiring more and more international employees.
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