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.

Negotiation Case Studies: The Bangladesh Factory-Safety Agreements

Katie Shonk   •  09/29/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

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   •  09/28/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

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 

Culture in Negotiation: Preparing for International Negotiation

Katie Shonk   •  09/14/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In his book How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Anywhere Around the World, Frank L. Acuff advises readers to expect Germans to be reserved, hard bargainers who may be offended by personal questions and tardiness. Those negotiating with Chinese counterparts are cautioned to avoid direct questions and to prepare to make numerous concessions. And negotiators … Read More 

Reaching agreement when trust is low

PON Staff   •  04/30/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Ending the longest war in U.S. history—America’s war in Afghanistan—has been a top goal for President Donald Trump since he took office. President George W. Bush launched the war in 2001 to oust the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist group that controlled Afghanistan and was shielding Al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks. Dragging … Read More 

Ask A Negotiation Expert: Network Building in the Middle East

PON Staff   •  03/31/2020   •  Filed in International Negotiation

A lack of effective communication has worsened ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. In 2014, regional stakeholders created the Negotiation Strategies Institute (NSI) to promote communication across disputing governments and other groups affected by the conflict. With the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP) as its academic sponsor, NSI holds an intensive 10-month executive program each year … Read More 

Successes & Messes: Sending a strong message on trade

PON Staff   •  12/31/2019   •  Filed in International Negotiation

For years, Donald Trump has complained that the United States is getting a raw deal in international trade negotiations. As president, he has tried to improve U.S. trade partnerships in different ways, with mixed results: Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership entirely, renegotiated changes to NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, imposed punitive tariffs … Read More 

Diplomacy and Negotiation Skills Fall Short In U.S.-China Trade Talks

Katie Shonk   •  10/07/2019   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Among the many diplomacy and negotiation skills required in international negotiation, business negotiators need to be able to size each other up accurately, taking into account cultural, organizational, and other differences. To capitalize on the benefits of diplomacy, they also need to be able to present a united front. Those diplomacy and negotiation skills came … Read More