Conflict and Negotiation Case Study: Long-Term Business Partnerships and Negotiated Agreements

Business negotiations: The signing of the contract is only the beginning of the relationship.

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Conflict and Negotiation Case Study: Long-Term Business Partnerships and Negotiated Agreements

To protect the future interests of their organization, negotiators sometimes must accept fewer benefits or absorb greater burdens in the short run to maximize the value to all relevant parties – including future employees and shareholders – over time.

Suppose that the operations VPs of two subsidiaries of an energy company are preparing to negotiate the location of a new energy source within the company. Beta, the energy source, is limited in supply, but it is inexpensive and efficient to use in the present and grows in potency over time.

One subsidiary would reap short-term gains by using Beta immediately, while the other is generating a technology that would make even greater use of Beta in the future.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


Retaining Beta for future use would create more long-term value for the company overall.

But because the future consequences of our decisions often appear remote, it could be difficult for the executives involved to negotiate this wise decision.

In negotiation, a temporal delay often exists between our decisions and their consequences, a situation that becomes complicated when ‘others’ – rather than ourselves – will be affected by our decisions.

In negotiations concerning long-term concerns, a strong symmetry exists between powerful present organizational actors and powerless future generations. Because those with control over the decision process have less at stake, the dependency of future generations on the present generation intensifies.

Related Conflict Resolution Article: The Deal is Done, Now What? – After a long round of business negotiations with a partner from Silicon Valley in a joint venture to manufacture devices using your tech and their know-how. The contract is unambiguous and its terms exact – all contingencies are covered and strong enforcement mechanisms are in place to insure compliance with the negotiated agreement. The foundation for the new partnership is solid and the dealmaking negotiation to arrive at this day is what helped build that foundation. But now what? As any experienced business negotiator knows, it takes more than a perfect contract to have a successful agreement. To work together with a partner and others, you need an effective working relationship based upon trust and mutual respect. In reality, business negotiators know that the signing of the contract is only the beginning of business negotiations between the two parties and that the building of a successful relationship between the two firms relies upon those same communication skills and negotiation skills that developed the foundational contract in the first place. A successful relationship with a partner, whether a domestic negotiator or an international negotiator, is, in many cases, the difference between success and failure. In this article, the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School takes negotiation strategies first published in the Negotiation Briefings newsletter to show you how to transform a contract into a successful, win-win relationship.

Dealmaking – Relationship Rules and Business Negotiations – Here are some concrete guidelines for fostering a productive, value-creating relationship with your negotiating counterpart – in business and in daily life. These negotiation strategies and negotiation tips come from The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing, and Mending Deals Around the World in the 21st Century by Program on Negotiation faculty member Jeswald Salacuse.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


Originally posted in May 2013.

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