Impact of directness on the perception of trust in intercultural communication in business relationships

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Disse, Melanie
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Master of International Communication
Unitec Institute of Technology
Peel, Simon
Papoutsaki, Evangelia
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
intercultural communication
business communication
communication styles
qualitative research
Disse, M. (2011). Impact of directness on the perception of trust in intercultural communication in business relationships. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of International Communication). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
This research project examines the impact of a direct communication style on the establishment of trust in intercultural business settings. A qualitative research approach was chosen as it was the aim of this research project to capture and evaluate participants’ perceptions of directness and its impact on trustworthiness, owing to underlying cultural values and beliefs of participants. The focus group method was chosen as a stand-alone method to collect rich and in-depth data. The group effect of the focus group method was significant for this research project as cultural differences were under examination. A critical incident approach was employed, and three different scenarios were discussed in each focus group. The three focus groups were culturally specific, and findings were compared across the focus group to identify culturally specific perceptions and patterns. Cultures under examination were the German and Chinese cultures, with New Zealand as a control group. Findings disclose an unexpected preference for a direct communication style in business settings from the Chinese participants, and hence, strongly support the call for more empirical research in this area. A variety of culturally specific factors were identified to impact participants’ willingness to trust another party, and findings indicate that the elements of directness and indirectness impact participants’ perceptions of another person’s trustworthiness.
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