This thesis examines how the meaning orientations proposed by Trompenaars (1993) in his model of cultural diversity in business are reflected in manifestations of meaning in a labor/management interaction in one particular university in Japan. Three theories provide the infrastructure for the argument of the research. The Trompenaars model of cultural diversity sets out seven clines along which meaning-making choices are made in human interaction. Systemic functional grammar Halliday (1985) is the tool through which the analyses of the texts are undertaken. Bernstein's (1964) theory of codes is used to explain the configurative rapport of meaning-making choices by participants. The study contributes to interdisciplinary research through analysis of meaning-making in a business management context using the three social theories which are each based in a different discipline — Trompenaars in business, systemics in linguistics and Bernstein in sociology.
A series of connected social events took place between 1992 and 1995 in the university. At the time, major restructuring of universities was being undertaken in Japan in response to societal changes caused by the economic recession and the decrease in youth population. The university in question had decided to make changes to contracts of certain teachers, which would have resulted in a substantial decrease in their remuneration. The teachers decided to contest the proposed changes and, in the course of the event, unionised. As a union, they eventually took their case to the Labor Commission and a compromise for both parties was agreed upon.
The data was collected during the course of the interaction between the university administration, represented entirely by Japanese functionaries, and the group of foreign teachers. Data consists of all written documents collected by participants during the event, as well as tape recordings of face-to-face meetings between the two parties. In addition, ethnographic interviews were conducted with participants, with various university functionaries, with union representatives and with the transcriber of the tapes.
The data is analysed from the macro narrative in the broadest sense to micro analysis of sections of high conflict talk within face-to-face negotiation meetings. Building on the notion of meaning by degree (Martin, 1992), conflict talk is described in this study in three degrees of low, median and high. The perceived instances of high conflict talk are initially isolated from instances of low and median conflict talk on the basis of prosodic variation, with this choice validated in the study by a comparison of micro analyses over the three degrees of conflict talk.
In describing and interpreting the data, the perceived nexus between the Trompenaars model of cultural diversity and systemic functional grammar through the interpersonal metafunction is crucial to the argument. Data in the broadest sense is studied looking at action and reaction of participants in their interventions. Face-to-face talk in meetings is analysed following the four basic speech functions described in systemic functional grammar by Halliday (1985) and Martin (1992). Tools for the micro-analysis of high conflict talk are developed from those used by Eggins and Slade (1997) in analysing casual conversation. The results reveal systematic choices by different participants along the meaning orientation clines proposed by Trompenaars, as well as characteristic patterns of conflict talk. A simple analysis for information structure shows the development of the argument for each side.
To explain the consistency in participant choices along the Trompenaars meaning orientation clines, Bernstein's theory of codes is applied to participants' meaning-making patterns. It is argued that the configurative rapport of participant choices is explained not only by the implicit/explicit cline proposed by Bernstein (1964) and Hasan (1984), but also by the accompanying notions of societies based on sameness or difference, and by the perception of the self in relation to others.