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.

International Negotiations and Agenda Setting: Controlling the Flow of the Negotiation Process

Katie Shonk   •  09/07/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

When two groups are embroiled in a conflict, it is common for the party with less power to have difficulty convincing the more powerful party to sit down at the negotiating table in international negotiations. In such cases, the more powerful player is likely to resist the notion of shaking up the status quo—and thus … Read More 

Building a Winning Team: Learn from the Disharmony of Trump’s Trade Negotiations with China

PON Staff   •  08/23/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly asserted that if he were elected, eliminating the U.S. trade deficit with China would be a top priority. But once in office, Trump was alternately swayed by opposing factions in his administration: pro-business moderates and America-first trade hawks. The resulting roller-coaster ride, as summarized in the Wall Street Journal, serves … Read More 

How to Overcome Cultural Barriers in Negotiation

PON Staff   •  08/19/2021   •  Filed in International 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 

Best Negotiators in History: Nelson Mandela and His Negotiation Style

Susan Hackley   •  08/17/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

The late Nelson Mandela will certainly be remembered as one of the best negotiators in history. He was clearly “the greatest negotiator of the twentieth century,” wrote Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation Chairman Robert H. Mnookin in his seminal book, Bargaining with the Devil, When to Negotiate, When to Fight. … Read More