Negotiating with Managers from Singapore

  • Cheryl Marie CordeiroEmail author


This chapter focuses on the Singaporean negotiation style and the practical approaches one could take when negotiating in the Singapore context. The Singaporean negotiator’s mindset, whilst individual, remains embedded in and shaped by the discourse contexts of the Singapore government (‘The Singapore Way’), and Singapore’s business environment, which is shaped by forces of regionalization and globalization. Singapore’s multiracial, multilingual background provides a unique business environment that, together with its geolocation, places the country at the heart of an increasingly interconnected Asia and Southeast Asia. The central theory espoused in this study is based in functional grammar that views language as a social semiotic—a tool for semogenesis or meaning-making. Language is an inherent feature of the human faculty, where most social functions are communicated and acted upon through language-in-use, across various forms of negotiations. Semogenesis and the communication of meaning are central to successful negotiations. Taking as case examples respondents from the Singapore business community as well as prominent individuals serving in the Singapore government, this study uses language as a theory and a framework of meaning-making to uncover the mindset of the Singapore negotiator, studied in relation to the supporting contexts of the Singapore business environment. Rather than a normative, static-cultural-dimensions construct approach which tends to perpetuate cultural stereotypes, this study illustrates how the complexity of interaction in the Singapore business environment generates a Singaporean approach to negotiation that is highly nuanced in nature.


Dialectical thinking Functional grammar Meaning-making Semogenesis Singaporean negotiation style The Singapore way 


  1. Allaire, Y., & Firsirotu, M. E. (1984). Theories of Organizational Culture. Organization Studies, 5(3), 193–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barr, M. (2000). Lee Kuan Yew and the “Asian Values” Debate. Asian Studies Review, 24(3), 309–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chauvin, C., & Chenavaz, R. (2017). The Appeal of Doing Business in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 37(1), 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Choi, I., & Choi, Y. (2002). Culture and Self-Concept Flexibility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1508–1517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cordeiro, C. M. (2016). The Gotheborg IV (G4) Model and the Function of Language in the Globalization Process of the Firm: The Case of Swedish MNEs. In M. Khan (Ed.), Multinational Enterprise Management Strategies in Developing Countries (pp. 215–236). Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cordeiro-Nilsson, C. M. (2009). Swedish Management in Singapore: A Discourse Analysis Study. PhD Thesis, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, N., & Callihan, T. (2013). Integral Methodological Pluralism in Science Education Research: Valuing Multiple Perspectives. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 8(3), 505–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Demotta, Y., Chao, M., & Kramer, T. (2016). The Effect of Dialectical Thinking on the Integration of Contradictory Information. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(1), 40–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diamond, L., & Plattner, M. F. (Eds.). (1998). Democracy in East Asia. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Economic Intelligence Unit. (2017, March 21). Measuring the Cost of Living Worldwide. The Economist. Internet Resource. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from
  11. Eggins, R. A., Haslam, S. A., & Reynolds, K. J. (2002). Social Identity and Negotiation: Subgroup Representation and Superordinate Consensus. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 887–899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Esbjorn-Hargens, S., & Zimmerman, M. (2009). Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World. Boston: Integral Books.Google Scholar
  13. Fang, T. (2003). A Critique of Hofstede’s Fifth National Culture Dimension. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 3(3), 347–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fang, T. (2012). Yin Yang: A New Perspective on Culture. Management and Organization Review, 8(1), 25–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Graves, C. (1970). Levels of Existence: An Open System Theory of Values. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 10(2), 131–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haley, U., Low, L., & Toh, M. (1996). Singapore Incorporated: Reinterpreting Singapore’s Business Environments Through a Corporate Metaphor. Management Decision, 34(9), 17–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hall, E. T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  19. Hall, E. T. (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hamamura, T., Heine, S. J., & Paulhus, D. L. (2008). Cultural Differences in Response Styles: The Role of Dialectical Thinking. Personality & Individual Differences, 44(4), 932–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hestbæk Andersen, T., Boeriis, M., Maagero, E., & Tønessen, E. S. (2015). Social Semiotics: Key Figures, New Directions. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Hideg, I., & Ferris, D. L. (2017). Dialectical Thinking and Fairness-Based Perspectives of Affirmative Action. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(5), 782–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hideg, I., & Kleef, G. (2017). When Expressions of Fake Emotions Elicit Negative Reactions: The Role of Observers’ Dialectical Thinking. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(8), 1196–1212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Hofstede Insights. (2017). Country Comparison, China, Singapore and Sweden. Internet Resource at Hofstede Insights. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from
  27. House, R., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, Leadership and Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Jeste, D., & Harris, J. (2010). Wisdom-A Neuroscience Perspective. JAMA, 304(14), 1602–1603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ji, L., Nisbett, R., & Su, Y. (2001). Culture, Change, and Prediction. Psychological Science, 12(6), 450–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Katz, D., & Kahn, R. L. (1978). The Social Psychology of Organizations (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Kausikan, B. (1998). The “Asian Values” Debate: A View from Singapore. In L. Diamond, M. F. Plattner, & Y.-H. Chu (Eds.), Democracy in East Asia (pp. 24–25). Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Keesing, R. M. (1974). Theories of Culture. Annual Review of Anthropology, 3, 73–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lee, H. L. (2017a, October 19). (Transcirpt) CNBC Interview with PM Lee Hsien Loong. The Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore Government. Internet Resource. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from
  34. Lee, H. L. (2017b, May 1). (Transcript) PM Lee Hsien Loong at May Day Rally 2017. The Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore Government. Internet Resource. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from
  35. Lee, H. L. (2017c, December 31). (Transcript) PM Lee Hsien Loong’s New Year Message for 2018, Titled. A Strong Foundation for the Future. Internet Resource. Retrieved January 11, 2018, from
  36. Lee, C., & Chng, K. (2017). Lord Denning’s Influence on Contract Formation in Singapore—An Overdue Demise? Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, 17(2), 1–27.Google Scholar
  37. Lewin, K., Lippitt, R., & White, R. K. (1939). Patterns of Aggressive Behavior in Experiementally Created “Social Climates”. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Liu, W., Friedman, R., & Hong, Y.-Y. (2011). Culture and Accountability in Negotiation: Recognizing the Importance of in-Group Relations. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Low, L., Toh, M. H., Soon, T. W., & Tan, K. Y. (1993). Challenge and Response: Thirty Years of the Economic Development Board. Singapore: Times Academic Press.Google Scholar
  40. McEleny, C. (2017, August 24). Singapore Reveals New United Branding Around ‘Passion Made Possible’ to Evoke the Country’s Aspirational Story. The Drum. Internet Resource. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from
  41. McSweeney, B. (2009). Dynamic Diversity: Variety and Variation Within Countries. Organization Studies, 30(9), 933–957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nisbett, R., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and Systems of Thought: Holistic Versus Analytic Cognition. Psychological Review, 108(2), 291–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. O’Sullivan, L. (1984). The London Missionary Society: A Written Record of Missionaries and Printing Processes in the Straits Settlements. Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 57(2 (247)), 61–104.Google Scholar
  44. O’Sullivan, R. (1988). The Anglo-Chinese College and the Early ‘Singapore Institution. Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 61(2 (255)), 45–62.Google Scholar
  45. Peng, K., & Nisbett, R. (1999). Culture, Dialectics, and Reasoning About Contradiction. American Psychologist, 54(9), 741–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shenkar, O. (2012). Retrospective. Beyond Cultural Distance Revisited: Switching to a Friction Lens in the Study of Cultural Differences. Journal of International Business Studies, 43, 12–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sia, S. K., & Neo, B. S. (1998). Transforming the Tax Collector: Reengineering the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 11(6), 496–514. Scholar
  48. SingStat. (2017). Singapore in Figures 2017. Department of Statistics Singapore, Singapore Government. Internet Resource. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from
  49. Spencer-Rodgers, J., Boucher, M., Wang, L., & Peng, K. (2009). The Dialectical Self-Concept: Contradiction, Change, and Holism in East Asian Cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(1), 29–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spencer-Rodgers, J., Williams, M., & Peng, K. (2012). Culturally Based Lay Beliefs as a Tool for Understanding Intergroup and Intercultural Relations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36(2), 169–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Station F Innovation Hub in Paris. Retrieved from
  52. Staudinger, U. (2008). Predictive Validity of General and Personal Wisdom. International Journal of Psychology, 43(3–4), 399.Google Scholar
  53. Steward, J. H. (1955). Theory of Culture Change: The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  54. Tan, E. K.-B. (2000). Law and Values in Governance: The Singapore Way. Hong Kong Law Journal, 30, 91–538.Google Scholar
  55. Thompson, L. (1993). The Impact of Negotiation on Intergroup Relations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 29, 304–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Triandis, H. C. (1989). Cross-Cultural Studies of Individualism-Collectivism. In J. Berman (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium On Motivation: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (pp. 41–133). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  57. Triandis, H. C. (2004). The Many Dimensions of Culture. Academy of Management Executive, 18(1), 88–93.Google Scholar
  58. Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (1997). Riding the Waves of Culture. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  59. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A History of Modern Singapore 1819–2005. Singapore: National University of Singapore (NUS) Press.Google Scholar
  60. Velayutham, S. (2007). Responding to Globalization: Nation, Culture and Identity in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Southeast-Asian Studies (ISEAS) Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Venaik, S., & Brewer, P. (2013). Critical Issues in the Hofstede and GLOBE National Culture Models. International Marketing Review, 30(5), 469–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wilber, K. (1980). The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development (Quest Books). Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House.Google Scholar
  63. Wilber, K. (2000). A Theory of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  64. Wilber, K. (2006). Integral Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  65. World Bank. (2017). Doing Business Reports on Hong Kong, China, and Singapore, 2017: Equal Opportunity for All. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

Database Links

  1. Eurostat: Temporary Employment in the EU. (2016). Eurostat. Retrieved from
  2. France. (2016). Forbes: Best Countries for Business. Retrieved from
  3. France. (2017a). OECD Data. Retrieved from
  4. France. (2017b). The World Bank. Retrieved from
  5. France. (2017c). 2017 Index of Economic Freedom. Retrieved from
  6. France Country Comparison. (2017). Hofstede Insights. Retrieved from
  7. France Synthesis. (2017). Coface. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Norwegian Institute for Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture ResearchTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations