Bargaining with the Devil and other Ongoing Research

By on / Harvard Negotiation Research Project (HNRP)

Ongoing research includes the following: Bargaining with the Devil, Negotiating Ethnic Conflict and the Israeli Settlements Projects.

Bargaining with the Devil
Professor Mnookin is working on a new book project: Bargaining with the Devil: What to Do When the Stakes Are High and the Other Side Seems Evil.  By “devil” is meant an enemy who may have hurt you in the past or appears willing to profoundly harm you in the future: someone you do not trust, or someone you see as evil, whose values and stated interests are profoundly different. The devil in this sense may be your nation’s enemy, a business competitor, or even a family member.

In this work Mnookin will argue that often, but not always, you should decide to bargain even with the devil. The challenge is in making wise decisions. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, he exposes the emotional, psychological, and political traps that commonly distort people’s thinking when a disputant perceives the other side to be evil. He offers a framework to think through the benefits and costs of alternative courses of action, and then shows how that framework can be used to analyze a broad range of real world disputes.

Negotiating Ethnic Conflict
During the 2006 – 2007 academic year, Professor Robert Mnookin, HNRP Director, was on a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where he worked on two projects relating to dispute resolution.

Professor Mnookin continued work he had begun relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This work has argued that internal “behind the table” conflicts are the primary barriers to a negotiated two state solution. In 2006 he also began studying the internal conflict within Belgium between the Dutch speaking Flemish community and the French speaking Walloons. Building on these two strands of work, Mnookin asked why some ethnic conflicts are violent and others are not. This led to an article published in the Winter 2007 issue of Daedalus comparing and contrasting these conflicts.

Israeli Settlements Project
The Israeli Settlements Project is a research program dedicated to establishing a long-term dialogue process with respect to the future of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

In October 2004, HNRP co-hosted, along with the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, a major academic conference on the question of the West Bank and Gaza Settlements. Organized into six thematic panels, the conference brought together prominent academics, policymakers, and public intellectuals to address questions relating to settler relocation from a variety of academic perspectives: historical, philosophical, religious, psychological, economic, political and legal. The participants included Israelis, Palestinians, as well as scholars from North America and Europe. The proceedings from the conference were published in the April 2005 issue of Negotiation Journal.

In addition, a webcast of the entire conference, including remarks by Professor Mnookin and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, can be found below.

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