The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Individuals’ strategic orientations toward social interdependence in Russia and Sweden.

Project leader: Ola Sternäng
Starting year: 2019

Better understanding of how individuals in neighboring cultures in the Baltic Sea region approach interdependent decision-making offers the potential to transform conflicts into productive collaboration, regardless of the formal position of the involved actors. Russia and Sweden have been key strategic counterparts for several centuries. According to cross-cultural surveys, Russia and Sweden differ dramatically on attitudes, expectations, and other general inclinations that should be central to strategic interaction. Given these cultural differences, relevant to strategic interaction, we believe that the question of strategic orientation and culture is important enough to warrant systematic study of such tendencies in the contrasting cases of Russia and Sweden. In the present project, we plan to carry out experiments on interdependent decision-making with individuals in Russia and Sweden to test hypotheses about different attitudes and understanding of strategic interaction. In the proposed set of studies, we will test individuals’ perception of conflict situations and their responses in such situations. Also, we will test interventions aimed at moving people’s likely responses from antagonism and intransigent conflict to negotiation, conversation, and ultimately value-creating cooperation. In pilot studies, we have identified measures for quantifying such individual differences, with promising results. Our research approach is to measure people’s negotiation outcomes as the criterion variable for (successful) strategic interaction. By drawing on pre-existing predictors of such negotiation outcomes, we will examine how cultural variables may explain or moderate effects on the negotiation outcomes. Given our focus on successful strategic interaction, we will give particular attention to measures that seem to detect skills in strategic interaction. Several of these have been gathered (and quantified) under the label of “social interdependence skills” (SIS). This multidisciplinary project will improve our knowledge of the region (Russia and Sweden) in terms of SIS and negotiation performance. The project will contribute to the understanding of the strategic cultures in the countries. In the long run, improved negotiation understanding could help promoting increased trade between the countries. On a more mundane level, better understanding of negotiation and social interaction could facilitate everyday interactions. The results from the project will be relevant for several disciplines within social sciences, such as psychology, behavioral game theory, negotiation, organizational behavior, and political science.