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.

Engineering Breakthroughs When Trust is Low

PON Staff   •  04/08/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

The Obama administration capitalized on its recent nuclear deal with Iran to secure the release of Americans imprisoned in the Middle Eastern nation.

In recent years, the United States has urged Iran to release a number of Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who had been seized and imprisoned on what the U.S. government called … Read More 

Modest Goals Gave Hope to Syria Peace talks

Katie Shonk   •  04/05/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In international negotiations and other complex multiparty negotiations, should you set ambitious goals right from the start or begin with more modest ones?

Aiming high can lead to dramatic payoffs if you succeed, but the difficulty of orchestrating complicated international negotiations can increase the risk of impasse. By contrast, starting with more modest goals may suggest … Read More 

Negotiation in the News: Arm’s Length Peacemaking

PON Staff   •  03/15/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

For 70 years, the governments of Japan and South Korea disagreed over what Japan might owe the Korean women its soldiers abused during World War II. The story of how they finally came to agreement reminds us of the importance of including all interested parties in conflict-resolution efforts.

An unresolved issue

During the war, tens of thousands … Read More 

Negotiation Research You Can Use: When Cultural Expectations Lead Us Astray

PON Staff   •  02/12/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

In September 2014, a Chinese court found the British pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) guilty of bribing government officials, hospital officials, and doctors to sell more drugs at higher prices, according to the Wall Street Journal. The court fined the company nearly $500 million and convicted five of GSK’s managers, including its former top executive in … Read More 

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Negotiations: The Importance of Culture and Etiquette in Bargaining Scenarios

PON Staff   •  01/26/2016   •  Filed in International Negotiation

Learn how and when to engage in appropriate cultural traditions when negotiating with counterparts from a different culture. In this article we offer negotiation tips for overcoming cultural barriers in negotiation and present additional articles drawn from negotiation research that may be of benefit to negotiators who need to improve their international negotiation skills. … Read More