Publication details [#57901]

Schnurr, Stephanie and Olga Zayts. 2013. “I can't remember them ever not doing what I tell them!”: Negotiating face and power relations in ‘upward’ refusals in multicultural workplaces in Hong Kong. Intercultural Pragmatics 10 (4) : 593–616.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


This article examines how Hong Kong Chinese employees in multicultural workplaces discuss matters of face and power relations in upward refusals towards their expatriate superiors. Socio-cultural backgrounds do not emerge as principal decisive factor of communicative conduct. Findings of this exploratory study indicate that refusals are complex communicative activities that are carefully negotiated among participants. We argue that in contrast to earlier studies, participants' socio-cultural backgrounds do not appear to be the main determining factor of how issues of face and power relations are negotiated in upward refusals. Rather, a range of other factors, including media of communication, normative ways of interacting in a workplace, the relationship between interlocutors, as well as the content of the refusal, are more relevant for explaining participants’ communicative behavior.