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Diversity and Conflict Management: A Self-Other Sensemaking Perspective
Keywords: Attention focus, Diversity, Self-other relatedness, Sensemaking
Abstract: We offer a sensemaking perspective on the relationship between diversity and conflict management, focusing on how individuals perceive the relatedness between the self and others. We propose that individuals’ perception of relatedness between self and other is the fundamental cognitive mechanism regarding whether and how diversities influence individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. We further use three cognitive dimensions to explain individuals’ cognitive preference of self focus, other focus, dual focus, neither focus, and collective focus, and propose focus shift and transformation. Cognitive complexity and flexibility, and cultural looseness-tightness and multiple role-taking will affect focus shift and transformation. Those focus changes will contribute to integration conflicting management style for long-term collaboration in diverse organizations. We conclude with a discussion of how understanding self-other cognitive relatedness might offer insights on managing conflicts through capitalizing diversity at the individual, organizational, and country levels.