Cross-Cultural Negotiation

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The diverse makeup of many societies and global nature of business today make cross-cultural negotiation a regular part of life. Unfortunately, many major disputes in need of resolution also cross ethnic and cultural lines. Communication and negotiation etiquette varies widely across cultures. In France, it is rude to talk money over dinner while in Brazil the American ‘A-OK’ gesture (thumb and forefinger forming a circle) can be a major insult. Understanding when, where, how and with whom it is appropriate to negotiate any given issue is extremely important to working across cultures. Negotiators and mediators should do their best to understand the cultural norms of other parties, and should be charitable in understanding that others have different norms from their own.

Role-play exercises available through the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) introduce some of the issues that can arise when negotiating across cultures, and how they might be addressed. In MedLee, representatives of an American medical equipment manufacturer and Thai distributor must negotiate the terms of a business agreement, with each party preparing individually and then working together to overcome cultural differences and foster a long-term relationship. Cross-cultural negotiation skills are also necessary within organizations. In Hiring a Newtonian, a Human Resources Director and newly hired computer programmer from a different country must work across the cultural divide to reach agreement on salary, benefits and start date. One Village, Six People puts participants in a tense meeting about competing land claims and local authority issues between Tutsi and Hutu residents of a small village after the Rwandan genocide.

Videos available through the TNRC illustrate effective practices. Negotiating in Today’s World is a comprehensive training tool for executives, officials and others engaged in cross-cultural negotiation. Books on cross-cultural negotiation are also available through the TNRC. Imagine Coexistence draws from numerous cases to illustrate what countries can do after violent ethnic conflict subsides to rebuild society.

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Role Simulations

Role Simulation
Taline Aharonian and Agieszka Klich
Complex 13-party, two-team facilitated negotiation between private citizens from both sides of an actual long-term ethnic conflict
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Arms Control on Cobia

P. Terrance Hopmann
Multi-issue arms control negotiation among representatives of eight fictional countries
Role Simulation
Imam Soliman under the direction of David Fairman
The Athens-Melos Role Play is a simulation from the Workable Peace Curriculum Series unit on Ancient Greece and the Peloponnesian War.
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Bamara Border Dispute

Michael D. Landry
Two-team, multi-issue negotiation between representatives of two fictional countries regarding a disputed border and a military stand-off
Role Simulation
Community Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Beaumont Incinerator Exercise

Mona Haywood and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party task force negotiation regarding the application of environmental policy to the operation of an incinerator in a racially diverse community
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Big Pipeline in Swagwit

Kelly Davenport, Pat Field and Lawrence Susskind
Two-party, two-issue integrative negotiation between representatives of a construction company and a Native American group regarding allocation of construction jobs
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Canada-China Panda Acquisition Negotiation

Stephen Weiss
Two-team (6 person), multi-issue contract negotiation between Canadian zoo CEOs and representatives of Chinese organization responsible for giant panda loans
Role Simulation
Public Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Development Dispute at Menehune Bay

Lawrence Susskind, Thomas Dinell, and Vicki Shook
Six-party, multi-issue, facilitated negotiation of a dispute over environmental issues, native rights, and commercial development interests in Hawaii
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

DS-30

Robert Ricigliano and Victor Issraelyan
Two-party, integrative international negotiation between representatives of two neighboring countries over compensation for pollution in one of the countries caused by an industrial accident in the other country
Role Simulation
Role-Play:

ENCO

Jeswald W. Salacuse, Arun Venkataraman, and Fritz von Carp

Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Foreign Direct Investment in Mandoa

Michèle Ferenz, Stan Byers, and David Fairman with assistance from Professor Lawrence Susskind
A facilitated multi-party negotiation among government officials regarding the design of a foreign direct investment strategy that balances economic, societal, and environmental concerns
Role Simulation
Imam Soliman, under the direction of David Fairman
Seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Hebron to discuss land claims, security, and border control
Role Simulation
Michael Maturo, Kate Mahoney, Francisco Ingouville and Anthony Wanis St. John, under the direction of David Fairman
Six-person mediated negotiation among representatives of the Guatemalan government, military, rebel groups, indigenous people, and U.S. government to address post-armed-conflict human rights, land claims, and cultural and political rights issues
Role Simulation
Robert Smith and Ericka Gray
Two-party, multi-issue negotiation between a human resources director and a prospective employee over terms of hire that highlight cultural differences
Role Simulation
Jennie Hatch under the supervision of Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, multi-issue negotiation focused on issues of public engagement in hydropower-based energy development
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Kaotian Crisis

Bruce Patton
Two-team, ten-party international crisis negotiation between U.S. and "Kaotian" military and security officials to address Kaotian seizure of an American vessel and the ensuing military crisis
Role Simulation
Regulation Negotiation Role-Play:

Lake Wasota Fishing Rights

Denise Madigan, Tod Loofbourrow with teaching notes by Eileen Babbitt and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, six-issue, scoreable negotiation among representatives of tribal, state, federal, recreation, and business interests over fishing rights in a large lake
Role Simulation
Science-Intensive Policy Disputes Negotiation Role-Play:

Long RiverConfronting the Challenges of Instream Flow

Catherine Ashcraft and Larry Susskind
A six-party, seven-person (including the mediator), multi-issue mediation among representatives of governmental, business, environmental, recreational, and tribal interests regarding a dispute over developing an instream flow action plan
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border

Lawrence Susskind
Two-team, ten-person, multi-issue, co-chaired negotiation between representatives of two adjacent countries regarding the transboundary management of a severe water shortage crisis
Role Simulation
Rose Foley, under the direction of David Fairman and Laura Keane
Five-party, multi-issue, EU-mediated negotiation between representatives of Catholic and Protestant groups regarding a Protestant marching route through Catholic neighborhoods
Role Simulation
Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

MedLeeIn Pursuit of a Healthy Joint Venture

Candace Lun and Jeswald W. Salacuse
Two-party, four-issue negotiation between representatives of two companies with different national and corporate cultures regarding a possible joint venture
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Meridia and Petrocentram

Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes
Two-party, four-issue negotiation between representatives of a Central American country and an international petroleum corporation over the terms of an offshore drilling project
Role Simulation
Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Mouse Exercise

Geoffrey Fink and Maria Baute Stewart
Seven-party, multi-issue negotiation among a theme-park developer, neighboring mayors, a regional organization, and a national government representative over the development of a proposed theme park; involves coalition-building and cultural issues
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Multisumma

Patricia Moore and Hal Movius with Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, four-issue negotiation among representatives of several international aircraft companies over the terms of a potential long-term partnership
Role Simulation
Chris Jost, under the direction of David Fairman
Six-party negotiation among Hutu and Tutsi villagers regarding competing land claims and local authority issues in the wake of the Rwandan genocide
Role Simulation
Ericka Gray
Three-party, multi-issue international trade negotiation among three culturally different countries over which of two countries will export rice to the third; inculdes coalition and ongoing relationship issues
Role Simulation
Education Negotiation Role-Play:

Phoenix, The

Sheila Heen and Michael Moffitt, based on a case by Doug Stone
Two-party negotiation between the director of a county tutoring program and a tutor regarding pay, work conditions, and job performance; ethnic differences are an issue
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Radwaste I

Tod Loofbourrow, Lawrence Susskind, Denise Madigan and Wendy Rundle
Seven-party, multi-issue, scoreable negotiation among regulatory, environmental, tribal, local government, and industry representatives to choose criteria for selecting a low-level radioactive waste disposal site
Role Simulation
Community Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

River Bend

Kelly Davenport with Patrick Field and Lawrence Susskind
Two-team, four-issue negotiation between three members of a Native Canadian band and three representatives of Calgary Central Gas over a planned pipeline through the band's reservation; includes internal team negotiations as well as external negotiation
Role Simulation
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Role-Play:

Seoul Food in Urbana

David Eun and Bruce Patton
Three-person mediation involving representatives of local Korean and African-American communities over racial tensions arising from an alleged shoplifting incident; a city representative serves as the mediator
Role Simulation
Public Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Summitville Service Agreement

Patrick Field and Tracy Dyke
A two-team (four-party), co-mediated, multi-issue negotiation simulation involving a bitter property tax dispute between a small town and an Indian band living on a nearby reservation
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Water on the West Bank

Susan Podziba and Lawrence Susskind
Seven-person, four-issue mediation among three Israeli water authority and regional representatives and three Palestinian water authority and political representatives over plans to drill a new well on the West Bank
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Zalada Crisis

Thomas Rasmussen, Elizabeth Kopelman, and Wayne Davis
Two-party international negotiation between representatives of a former colonial power and an independent former colony over the release of two arrested embassy workers and related political consequences

Video and Audio

Videos and Audio
Produced by Larry Susskind and Warren Dent
The Program On Negotiation at Harvard Law School invited three members of its highly experienced negotiation faculty to share stories about how they have adapted their teaching strategies in various cross-cultural contexts.
Videos and Audio

James Sebenius and Kristen Schneeman

Video featuring excerpts from a discussion with Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi regarding his international negotiation experiences, including negotiating a new government for Afghanistan in 2002
original
Videos and Audio

Edited by James K. Sebenius and Ellen Knebel

Video featuring Ambassador Richard Holbrooke discussing his role brokering the Dayton agreement that ended the 1992-95 war in Bosnia as well as his role in resolving the multinational dispute over U.S. dues owed in arrears to the United Nations

The Great Negotiator Collection

Videos and Audio

James Sebenius and Kristen Schneeman

Video featuring excerpts from a discussion with Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi regarding his international negotiation experiences, including negotiating a new government for Afghanistan in 2002
original
Videos and Audio

Edited by James K. Sebenius and Ellen Knebel

Video featuring Ambassador Richard Holbrooke discussing his role brokering the Dayton agreement that ended the 1992-95 war in Bosnia as well as his role in resolving the multinational dispute over U.S. dues owed in arrears to the United Nations

Case Studies & Articles

Stephen Weiss and Sarah Tatrallyay

This case study centers on the most challenging task for a negotiator: to reach a satisfactory agreement with a tough counterpart from a position of low power—and to do so in an uncommon context. The case concerns the executive director of a zoo in the U.S. who seeks two giant pandas, an endangered species, from their only source on the planet: China.

Books

original
Book

Iris Bohnet

A "game-changer" that demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance.

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