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.

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Negotiation Case Studies: The Bangladesh Factory-Safety Agreements

Katie Shonk   •  03/24/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

negotiation case studies

We can learn a lot from negotiation case studies. On April 24, 2013 an eight-story building in Bangladesh known as Rana Plaza collapsed, killing an estimated 1,129 people, many of them low-wage garment workers who made goods for foreign companies.
In the weeks after the disaster, apparel outsourcers faced mounting public pressure to address hazardous conditions … Read More 

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

PON Staff   •  03/23/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

negotiations

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 

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiation: China and the Gold Rush Mentality

PON Staff   •  03/19/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

negotiation

If Chinese culture favors insiders, it stands to reason that outsiders face an uphill battle.

In One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China (Free Press, 2005), business executive and Wall Street Journal bureau chief James McGregor writes of the 1996 attempt by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, to … Read More 

How to Overcome Cultural Barriers in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  03/17/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

overcome cultural barriers in negotiation

Imagine that you’re the American representative of a U.S. food company, and you’re hoping to procure a new ingredient for several of your products from a German company. A representative from the company is flying in to meet with you. Do you expect your German counterpart to behave differently than the Americans you typically deal … Read More 

Negotiation Analysis: The US, Taliban, and the Bergdahl Exchange

PON Staff   •  03/17/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Negotiation Analysis

The exchange between the United States and the Taliban of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, represented the first public prisoner exchange of a US soldier in the thirteen year US involvement in Afghanistan. The background of the deal including how Private First Class Bergdahl (promoted twice to Sergeant … Read More 

Managing Cultural Differences in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  03/16/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

managing cultural differences

It’s important to educate yourself about your counterpart’s culture so that you don’t risk offending her or seeming unprepared. At the same time, it would be a mistake to focus too narrowly when preparing for cross-cultural communication in business. Research on international negotiation can help us think more broadly when it comes to managing cultural … Read More 

Operating Short-Term to Long-Term through the COVID-19 Pandemic: Negotiating a Global Renaissance with Science Diplomacy

PON Staff   •  03/09/2020   •  Filed in Affiliated Faculty, author, Conflict Resolution, Consortium Schools & Other Boston Area Universities, Dispute Resolution, Events, International Negotiation, PON Affiliated Faculty, Student Events, Students

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is pleased to present:

A video recording of this event is available for viewing on our YouTube channel.
Operating Short-Term to Long-Term through the COVID-19 Pandemic: Negotiating a Global Renaissance with Science Diplomacy
A virtual discussion with:

Paul Arthur Berkman
Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy and
Founding Director of the Science Diplomacy Center
at Tufts … Read More 

Cross Cultural Communication: Translation and Negotiation

PON Staff   •  03/03/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

cross cultural

In previous international negotiation articles from cross cultural negotiation case studies, we have focused on how international negotiators can avoid cognitive biases and overcome cultural barriers. But how do negotiators dealing with counterparts that speak another language modify their negotiation techniques to accommodate for the lack of a common language? … Read More 

International Negotiations and Cognitive Biases in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  02/25/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

international negotiations

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 

Diplomatic Negotiations: The Surprising Benefits of Conflict and Teamwork at the Negotiation Table

PON Staff   •  02/17/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

diplomatic negotiations

As the US presidential primary season heats up for both parties, it helps to take a look back at the 2008 US presidential election and the win-win coalition forged between Barack Obama and his then-rival, Hillary Clinton. As this example demonstrates, if carefully managed, disagreements can lead to better results than you might expect. … Read More 

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