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: Challenging Multiparty Negotiations Around the Euro

Katie Shonk   •  11/26/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

A European Union summit held in late October failed to make much headway toward better coordination of economic policies, the Wall Street Journal reports. Facing resistance from Germany in particular, European officials are growing pessimistic regarding their odds of negotiating a deal over the next year to lay the foundation for a banking union for … Read More 

Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore Named the Great Negotiator by the Program on Negotiation and the Future of Diplomacy Project

PON Staff   •  09/16/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

The Program on Negotiation, an inter-university consortium of Harvard, MIT, and Tufts, and Harvard’s Future of Diplomacy Project have named Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore the recipient of the 2014 Great Negotiator Award. In public events at Harvard planned for the afternoon of Thursday, April 10, 2014 (details to be announced), participants will honor Koh’s … Read More 

PON Faculty Member Robert Bordone Writes “What Obama Should Say About Syria” for NPR’s Cognoscenti

PON Staff   •  09/11/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Program on Negotiation faculty member and Director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School, Robert Bordone, and HNMCP clinical instructor Alonzo Emery recently published an article for NPR’s Cognoscenti titled “What Obama Should Say About Syria,” in which he discusses the opportunity the crisis in Syria presents for US President … Read More 

Hitting “Pause” On International Negotiations

Katie Shonk   •  09/10/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

On August 7, President Barack Obama canceled a summit with Russian President Valdimir Putin scheduled for September in Moscow, citing a lack of progress on a variety of issues. The announcement came on the heels of Russian’s decision to grant temporary asylum to former National Security Agency contractor and Edward Snowden, who made confidential data … Read More 

The Future of Warfare and “Invisible Threats” to Peace: How Technology is Reshaping the Battlefield

PON Staff   •  08/16/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Program on Negotiation and Harvard Law School faculty member Gabriella Blum’s essay “Invisible Threats,” co-authored with Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, was featured on the Harvard Law School website.

In a panel discussion about her research, Professor Blum explained her perspective on the growing threat of technology to peace and how the accessibility of this … Read More 

Bet you didn’t know…Will a team approach work? Consider the culture

PON Staff   •  06/15/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In negotiation, two (or more) heads are better than one, most researchers have found. In several studies conducted in the United States, teams were better than solo negotiators at exchanging information with counterparts and making accurate judgments, and teams also achieved better outcomes for everyone involved.

The tendency of teams to outperform solo negotiators has been … Read More 

PON panel discusses Track II Negotiations, Islands of Coordination and Unilateral Moves in the New Middle East

PON Staff   •  05/07/2013   •  Filed in International Negotiation, Middle East Negotiation Initiatives, Videos

On March 4th, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School hosted a panel discussion entitled: “Negotiations by Other Means: Track II, Unilateral Action, Robust Third Party Role and Islands of Coordination in the New Middle East.”




The panel featured three veterans of high profile Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy: Ambassador Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for … Read More