More than 10 per cent of HR managers questioned in a survey admitted their directors have a "clash-oriented" approach to dialogue.
Of 96 managers who answered the question, 11 said directors in their own organisation were confrontational. Asked about their own approach, three of the 98 who replied admitted they too had an argumentative approach.
The study, HR Practices in the Business World, was carried out for Manpower and the National Association of Personnel Directors, the professional body for French HR professionals.
Researchers questioned 2,800 HR managers throughout France, Germany, Italy Japan, the UK, the US and the Netherlands.
The report found that in all seven countries, except Germany, employees progress primarily through their ability to bring complete projects successfully.
In Germany, however, the most highly-prized skill is the ability to innovate and propose new ideas.
Money was the most powerful motivator in all the countries except the Netherlands. In the UK and Italy, 54 per cent of HR managers said this was the main way of motivating staff with the figure rising to 69 per cent in Japan.
But in the Netherlands, HR managers said personal fulfilment is the main consideration. Sixty-two per cent of those questioned named it as the top priority of top Dutch executives.
The survey also shows the majority of HR managers - from 69 per cent in the US to 79 in France and Germany - believe that practices such as stock options or employee shareholding plans should be expanded.
John Raywood, project manager for group human resources at GlaxoWellcome, said the organisation actively discourages confrontation in favour of an open approach.
He said Glaxo is currently seeking to foster more transparency by increasing the flow of information available to staff via its European works council.
"We recognise it is no good having a works council if these representatives are not able to report back on what they have heard," he said.