Sarah Gillaerts

Sarah Gillaerts

Participant in 2016
Work history • Nov. 2013 – Jun. 2014: Assisting Academic Staff (ad interim), Vrije Universiteit Brussel/SCOM
• Sep. 2014 – Sep. 2020: Assisting Academic Staff (AAP), Vrije Universiteit Brussel/SCOM. This mandate consists of writing a PhD-dissertation (60%) and teaching assistance (40%). This PhD project aims to investigate how Chinese and Belgian potential business partners overcome cultural differences and reach mutual understanding during interpersonal communication in the alliance negotiation process.
Study history • Master in Communication Sciences: Media, Strategic Communication and Marketing – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, 2013).
• Preparatory programme of the master in Communication Sciences: Media, Strategic Communication and Marketing – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, 2012)
• Advanced Chinese Language – Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China (2011)
• Bachelor in Sinology (Minor Culture and History) – K.U.Leuven (KUL, 2010)
Publications Not yet

Phd Projects

2016

Bridging Cultural Differences in Strategic Alliance Negotiations between Chinese and Belgian Potential Business Partners: an Intercultural Communication Perspective

Differences in culture and socio-economic environment increase the complexity of strategic alliance negotiations between Chinese and Belgian potential business partners. When cultural distance is high, negotiators will encounter difficulties with assessing the intentions and goals of their counterpart. The negotiator’s behaviour is not exclusively strategic anymore, but could also have cultural explanations, or both. Hence, the foreign negotiator has to be careful in assessing whether particular behaviour refers to the cultural dimension or the strategic dimension (Faure, 1999).
The main purpose of this PhD research is to investigate how Chinese and Belgian potential business partners overcome cultural differences and reach mutual understanding in and through interpersonal communication in the strategic alliance negotiation process.
Moving away from the dominant ‘static’ paradigm in intercultural communication and negotiation literature, this project adopts an intercultural and dynamic approach in which a multi-levelled construct of culture is viewed as something that is negotiated and co-created in and through interpersonal communication (e.g. Brannen & Salk, 2000; Gelfand & Brett, 2004; Kleinberg, 1994; Soderberg & Holden, 2002). Most research on culture and negotiation is predominantly comparative in nature and focuses on exploring the impact of culture on negotiation strategies and outcomes (e.g. Gelfand & Realo 1999, Tinsley & Pillutla 1998). Much less research has been done on how negotiators deal with cultural ambiguity and adapt to specific negotiation contexts (e.g. Adair & Brett, 2002; Burgoon et al., 1995). An intercultural alliance negotiation does not take place in a vacuum, but in a context. Therefore we should not only depend on cultural categories, but also take into account the social organisational contexts that play part in shaping culture. By investigating the interplay between the strategic, the structural-organisational and the cultural dimension of the international negotiation process, which are all interconnected (e.g. Faure, 1999; Hunsinger, 2006), we want to contribute to achieve a critical, contextual theoretical and analytical framework for the study of culture and negotiation. An interpretative ethnographic approach as suggested in the works of Denzin (1997), Strauss & Quinn (1997) and O’Reilly (2005), combining direct observations and interviews both in China and Belgium, is adopted to deeply grasp the cultural and interpersonal dynamics between Chinese and Belgian business partners in the strategic alliance negotiation process. The researcher will select those case studies that allow for long-term observations throughout the different stages of a strategic alliance negotiation: pre-, formal and post-negotiations (Boden, 2008). This process-oriented approach is necessary to uncover how people adapt to an environment that is enhanced by cultural ambiguity and seek to build, through dialogue, a mutually beneficial interactive environment, based on new foundations and practices (e.g. Casmir, 1999; Zhang & Huxham, 2009).

Dissertation

Dissertation title Bridging Cultural Differences in Strategic Alliance Negotiations between Chinese and Belgian Potential Business Partners: an Intercultural Communication Perspective
Year of defence 2020

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