Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Coordination and conflict in a multicultural organization: A case study of communication among Koreans, Americans and Korean-Americans

Hyonsook Chong, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation presents a rich, detailed account of lived experiences of Koreans, Americans, and Korean-Americans in a multicultural Korean business organization. Guided by the coordinated management of meaning theory as the theoretical and methodological framework, this study looks at the organization as a co-created, co-evolving interactive system. Thus, it closely examines communication among the participants as everyday practices in which to explore "goings-on" in the organization. The main focus of this study is on the extent to which cultural differences afford or constrain coordination among people, and create problems such as tensions and conflict in the organization. Six episodes were reconstructed based on various stories "told" and "lived" by the participants, and presented as major "goings-on" in the organization. The main findings centered around the issues of cultural adaptation, differentiation/division/discrimination, harmony, biculturalism, and language. These issues were manifested in various instances of situated interaction. They constrained coordination and coherence, and thus contributed to the creation, sustenance and transformation of tensions and conflict within the organization. The comparative analysis of different episodes, especially revealed the intricate ways in which various patterns of interactive relationships not only emerge and sustain, but also transform over time. The dissertation has two major theoretical implications for intercultural studies. First, it supports and extends literature on general cultural patterns by illustrating detailed ways in which this general knowledge is manifested in situated moments of intercultural interaction. It shows us, in detail, the process in which a particular intercultural situation is constructed in a unique and complex way. The second implication is that this study is capable of accounting for the process of transformation. In other words, this study provides the elaborate ways in which cultural patterns not only emerge and sustain but also transform in practice. This ever changing, rather than fixed, role of cultural differences is unconvered by the comparative analysis of different episodes that occured in different time. The study also introduces the problems of bi-cultural persons in multicultural organizations.

Subject Area

Communication|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Management

Recommended Citation

Chong, Hyonsook, "Coordination and conflict in a multicultural organization: A case study of communication among Koreans, Americans and Korean-Americans" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737513.