International Negotiation

International negotiation requires the ability to meet special challenges and deal with the unknown. Even those experienced in cross-cultural communication can sometimes work against their own best interests during international negotiations. Skilled business negotiators know how to analyze each situation, set up negotiations in ways that are advantageous for their side, cope with cultural differences, deal with foreign bureaucracies, and manage the international negotiation process to reach a deal.

The Program on Negotiation notes that in any international negotiation, several critical tactics should be considered:

  • Research your counterpart’s background and experience.
  • Enlist an adviser from your counterpart’s culture.
  • Pay close attention to unfolding negotiation dynamics.

Researchers have confirmed a relationship between national culture and negotiation style and success. An ongoing project sponsored by Northwestern University’s Dispute Resolution Research Center is exploring the link between process and outcomes—specifically, how cultural tendencies lead to certain process choices, which, in turn, can lead to better or worse negotiation results.

For example, while conventional wisdom tends to hold that there’s strength in numbers, some cultures may dislike being faced with a sizeable negotiating team, poisoning the negotiations right from the start.

At the same time, diplomatic negotiations, such as those between the U.S. and Iran over nuclear capabilities, can be quite different from business negotiations. For example, it’s critical to maintain a reputation for impartiality, and to be aware how your international goals potentially interact and contradict, so you can establish a consistent stance in your relations with groups you are trying to woo.

Finally, due to the enormous influence of China in today’s world markets, PON offers numerous insights into Chinese negotiation styles, which include a strong emphasis on relationships, a lack of interest in ironclad contracts, a slow dealmaking process and widespread opportunism.


Click here to download your copy of International Negotiations: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives from
 the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

International Negotiations and Cognitive Biases in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  11/28/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In discussing international negotiations and cognitive biases in negotiation, professor Cheryl Rivers of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, highlights in a negotiation research literature review, seasoned negotiators often hear stories about the unethical behaviors of people of other nationalities. Perhaps the toughest problems arise surrounding what Rivers calls “ethically ambiguous” negotiation tactics and … Read More 

International Negotiation Skills: Before Apologizing, Consider the Culture

PON Staff   •  11/22/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In 2004, after Japanese regulators shut down Citigroup’s private bank in the country for breaking numerous laws, then-CEO Charles O. Prince made headlines by traveling to Japan, bowing deeply before television cameras, and apologizing for his firm’s mistakes. As unusual as it seemed in American eyes, the public apology was widely seen in Japan as … Read More 

A Crisis Negotiations Case Study: Chen Guangcheng, the United States, China, and Diplomatic Negotiations

PON Staff   •  11/14/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s indirect approach to diplomatic negotiations with the People’s Republic of China over political dissdent Chen Guangcheng demonstrates the power of adaptability at the bargaining table, especially when dealing with a counterpart from a different culture or who may speak a different language. … Read More 

Top International Negotiation Examples: Apple’s Apology in China

PON Staff   •  10/25/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In April 2013, Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook made the unusual move of apologizing to Chinese customers for his company’s warranty policy and promised to make amends, the New York Times reports.

On March 15, International Consumers’ Day in China, the nation’s largest state-run television network criticized Apple for giving iPhone customers in China a short … Read More 

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