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.

India’s Direct Approach to Conflict Resolution

PON Staff   •  05/27/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In our global economy, organizations have unprecedented opportunities to grow by forming partnerships worldwide. Yet when we are negotiating abroad, cultural, language, and other differences can lead to misunderstandings that may eventually spiral into conflicts ranging from labor strikes to lawsuits to broken partnerships that require conflict resolution. At the same time, we want to … Read More 

Negotiation Team Dynamics: The Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

PON Staff   •  05/10/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In an interesting example of negotiation team dynamics, during a 2018 New Year’s Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposed opening talks with South Korea to discuss the North’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the following month. Hoping to avoid disruption by the North, South Korean … Read More 

Government Negotiations and Beyond: Using Carrots and Sticks Effectively

PON Staff   •  04/12/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In 1987 government negotiations, U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev took early steps to end the Cold War by signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) arms control treaty in Washington, D.C. Banning all ground-launched nuclear and conventional missile systems within a certain range, the INF treaty put in place a strict … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Negotiation Interpreters Leave Space for Interpretation

PON Staff   •  03/30/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Negotiators tend to view language interpreters as neutral in international negotiation, but reality is more complicated, according to Sanda Kaufman, a professor of Planning, Public Policy, and Administration at Cleveland State University who studies negotiation and intervention in urban, environmental, and organizational contexts. Fluent in four languages, Kaufman is also an experienced negotiation interpreter who … Read More 

Diplomacy Examples in the Covid-19 Era

Katie Shonk   •  01/04/2021   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In 2020, grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, international diplomats accustomed to traveling from capital to capital found themselves stuck in a never-ending stream of videoconferences. To take a number of diplomacy examples, the G7, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank all met online, reduced to tiny faces on a screen. The … Read More 

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

PON Staff   •  12/31/2020   •  Filed in International 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 

Overcoming Cross-Cultural Barriers to a Negotiated Agreement: Negotiation Ethics and International Negotiations

PON Staff   •  12/03/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Cross cultural negotiation examples provide insights into how negotiation techniques change depending on the context in which negotiators find themselves. As Professor Cheryl Rivers of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, points out in a recent negotiation research literature review, seasoned negotiators often hear stories about the unethical behaviors of people of other nationalities. … Read More