Power Distance

Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of society accept that power is distributed unequally.  Although the United States and Japan provide ideal cultural illustrations for individualism and collectivism, respectively, neither one falls at an extreme on the scale of power distance.

Linking a newly identified style of conflict resolution with the issue of power, Ting-Toomey notes that third party mediators in large power distance cultures are usually people who are highly regarded by both parties in the dispute.

The disputants may be willing to make concessions in order to "give face" to this honored mediator.  In the process, they back away from confrontation without loss of face to either party. The interaction she describes is much too intricate to be predicted or explained by a simple causal proposition. The complexity illustrates the difficulty that Ting-Toomey faces as she works to combine the issue of power distance with face-negotiation theory's basis distinction between collectivistic and individualistic cultures.