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.

Reaching agreement when trust is low

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

Signing Ceremony in Doha Qatar

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 

Hello from the other side

PON Staff   •  09/30/2019   •  Filed in International Negotiation

What should you do when negotiations have ended in rancor, and you and your counterpart aren’t even talking to each other?

In July 2018, North Korean soldiers based at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea apparently decided to pick up the phone. When it rang in the U.S. base on the other side … Read More 

International Negotiation Strategies

Katie Shonk   •  09/16/2019   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Negotiation researchers have reached many fascinating discoveries about how people negotiate, such as uncovering flaws in our decision making and identifying useful persuasion techniques. But a great deal of this research has been conducted in Western cultures, and particularly the United States, leaving open the question of whether the results—and the advice they inspire—apply across … Read More 

Negotiation in the news: From partner to pariah: The changing fortunes of Mohammad Javad Zarif

PON Staff   •  08/31/2019   •  Filed in International Negotiation

When preparing for high-stakes negotiations, organizations must decide who should lead their teams. That choice can be a difficult one, especially when trust between parties is low. Should you choose someone who will be a tough loyalist for your positions or someone who seems more capable of building bridges?

When the Obama administration and the government … Read More