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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The Role of Track I actors in Reconciliation: The UN in Iraq

PON Staff   •  11/20/2009   •  Filed in Conflict Resolution, Daily, Events, International Negotiation, The Kelman Seminar

“The Role of Track I actors in Reconciliation: The UN in Iraq”


Eileen Babbitt

Date: December 8, 2009
Time: 4-6 PM
Where: CGIS Building, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs,
1737 Cambridge Street, Second Floor, N-262 (Bowie Vernon Room), Cambridge MA
Contact Chair: Donna Hicks (

Speaker Bio
Eileen F. Babbitt is Professor of International Conflict Management Practice and Director of the International Negotiation … Learn More About This Program 

Boston Globe highlights mediation trainings for Iraqis

PON Staff   •  11/09/2009   •  Filed in Daily, International Negotiation, News

“The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is a renowned source of expertise in the field,” reported the Boston Globe today in its story, “Iraq latest crucible for Harvard mediation.” Reporting on the work done by conflict resolution professionals at Conflict Management Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the report notes that “The blood not spilled … Learn More About This Program 

Coping with cultural differences

PON Staff   •  06/09/2009   •  Filed in Daily, International Negotiation

Have you ever found yourself negotiating with people from other cultures, whether at home or abroad?  If so, did you try to adapt your negotiating style to fit the other person or team’s culture, and if so, how?

Most negotiators understand that cultural differences are likely to be a factor in negotiations. Unfortunately, many negotiators actually … Read Coping with cultural differences 

Negotiating rice and politics

PON Staff   •  06/17/2008   •  Filed in Daily, International Negotiation

The PON Clearinghouse offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Pacrim Dispute is a three-party, multi-issue international trade negotiation among three culturally different countries over which of two countries will export rice to the third.  This exercise includes coalition and ongoing relationship issues.

This negotiation, which takes place … Read Negotiating rice and politics 

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