Multiparty negotiation offers considerable benefits. Most notably more opportunities for making tradeoffs and creating value than are usually found in bilateral negotiations.
What is a multiparty negotiation? They are more common than you may realize. Think of department heads dividing up scarce resources, or a group of consumers launching a class-action lawsuit.
More than just the increased number of parties at the table, there are key differences in how negotiators a manage two party versus a multiparty negotiation. For example, power disparities can be exacerbated in multiparty negotiations.
There are also unpredictable factors. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse.
Three issues in particular can make a multiparty negotiation more complex than two-party talks: (1) coalition formation, (2) process-management issues, and (3) the fluctuating nature of each party’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA).
As the number of parties increases, BATNA calculations and resulting considerations of possible settlements takes on a kaleidoscopic quality. In a multiparty negotiation, you must recalculate your BATNA every time you imagine a new coalition that might strand you on the outside of an agreement.
By preparing for these differences in negotiating strategy, you will be well positioned to thrive in your next multiparty negotiation.
How does that happen?
Lobby for support from key constituents from the start. Rather than just talking to the usual players, reach out to those whose support you will need before, during, and after your negotiation.
Have each side choose a representative with a proven track record for evenhandedness and collaboration, then have these representatives lead the negotiating process together.
Work together on a draft agreement. This collaboration can improve the odds of finding common ground and closing the deal in a multiparty negotiation.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump blamed the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among Canada, Mexico, and the United States for the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and for lost American manufacturing jobs. Upon taking office, Trump said he was determined to either engage in renegotiation of NAFTA or walk away from the … Read
Strictly limited to 60 participants who have completed a prior course in negotiation, this first-of-its-kind program offers unprecedented access to experts from Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and the Harvard Kennedy School—all of whom are committed to delivering a transformational learning experience.
Over the years thousands of professionals have participated in negotiation programs at the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School. And after a few months or years of putting their negotiation skills and techniques to work, participants inevitably ask us, what’s next?
Introducing a new way to go in-depth on the fundamental negotiation concepts and measure learning outcomes.
If you are new to teaching negotiation or are looking to go in-depth on the fundamental negotiation concepts, the Three-Party Coalition All-In-One Curriculum Package will provide you with everything you need to teach negotiation.
Three-Party Coalition, one of the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center’s most popular … Read
Introducing a new way to go in-depth when teaching the most important negotiation concepts and to measure learning outcomes.
If you are new to teaching negotiation or are looking to go in-depth in teaching key concepts about multiparty negotiation, the Harborco All-In-One Curriculum Package will provide you with everything you need.
Harborco, one of the Teaching Negotiation … Read
Save Fairport: Planning for Social Cyber Defense of Critical Urban Infrastructure
Cybersecurity for critical urban infrastructure is a major public safety issue for cities. Cyber-attacks can cause major physical damage, as well as sow chaos and undermine public faith in government. Cyber criminals constantly develop new types of malware, which may not be detectable by current … Read
“Confessionals.” “Informal informals.” “Indabas.” Delegates from the 196 nations participating in the U.N. Climate Change Conference, held in Paris at the end of 2015, cycled through an eclectic variety of negotiating formats in their race to make binding commitments to lower greenhouse-gas emissions. According to media reports, the participants’ willingness to shake up the complex … Read
As the 20th anniversary of the horrific terror attacks of September 11th approaches, we look back at all that has changed in the world and at home in the two decades since. In the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, there were difficult questions and challenges facing those … Read
Teach Your Students to Negotiate One of the Most Critical Global Industries
With an ongoing pandemic devastating communities around the world, the acute importance of the healthcare industry to community welfare has become even more apparent. Healthcare is one of the biggest economies in the world, with billions of dollars spent on treatments and associated research. … Read
Imagine leading negotiations involving representatives from most of the world’s nations on a contentious topic such as sustainable development. Where would you start? How would you proceed when conflict emerged? How would you know when it was time to wrap things up?
Multiparty negotiations can be incredibly challenging. Just ask the negotiators from over 170 countries who managed to reach agreement on October 15 on a legally binding accord to combat climate change.
On December 12, 2018, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren had Vermont senator Bernie Sanders over to her house for a meeting, New York magazine reports. There, they each admitted what was already apparent: They were running for president. Friends as well as colleagues, Sanders and Warren agreed to try to protect the progressive movement by not attacking each … Read
To get what we want, we sometimes ask more powerful parties to intervene on our behalf. But what happens if they go off course? That’s the predicament automakers in the U.S. market find themselves in after asking the Trump administration to loosen fuel-economy standards for their vehicles.
Pedal to the metal
When Donald Trump became president in 2017, … Read
What’s one of the best ways to teach the art and science of negotiation? Case studies and articles that spark lively discussion or facilitate self-reflection. Based on real-world examples, these teaching resources are designed to help students envision how to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and beyond.
The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) at … Read
In 2016, political dealmaking and corporate mergers took center stage. We look back on some of the most notable of these negotiations, which offer significant lessons to professional negotiators.
What is negotiation? In her book The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, Northwestern University professor Leigh Thompson defines negotiation as “an interpersonal decision-making process necessary whenever we cannot achieve our objectives single-handedly.” This definition stresses the interdependence that’s fundamental to any negotiation.
Narrowing in on this definition, when preparing to negotiate, business professionals often wonder … Read
Multiparty negotiations can be difficult to manage if you are unprepared for the formation of coalitions. Two-party and multiparty negotiations share some important similarities: the goal of discovering the zone of possible agreement, for example. However, there are some key differences that set them apart. As soon as the number of parties increases past two, … Read
Check Out Our Bestselling Two Party and Multiparty Negotiation Simulations
More than just the increased number of parties at the table, there are key differences in how negotiators manage two party versus multiparty negotiations. Power disparities can be exacerbated in two party negotiations, however the opportunities for option generation can also be increased. The formation of … Read
As experienced negotiators well know, the more parties involved in a negotiation, the more difficult it often is to come to agreement, due in part to the logistical challenge of making sure each voice is heard. Yet multiparty negotiation offers considerable benefits. Most notably more opportunities for making tradeoffs and creating value in negotiation than … Read
Group negotiations are a fact of managerial life, yet the outcomes of teamwork are highly unpredictable. Sometimes groups cohere, reaching novel solutions to nagging problems, and sometimes infighting causes them to collapse. How can you predict when conflict will emerge in groups, and what can you do to stop it?
Dora Lau of the Chinese University … Read
A European Union summit held in late October 2013 failed to make headway toward more coordination of economic policies. Facing resistance from Germany in particular, European officials grew pessimistic regarding their odds of negotiating a deal over the next year to lay the foundation for a banking union for the 17 nations that use the … Read
The failed partnership between the former rival presidential candidates points to the promise and perils of alliance building.
In multiparty negotiations, it’s common – and often wise – for low-power parties to form alliances with the goal of gaining leverage or a stronger voice. In international negotiations over climate change, trade, and other issues, for example, … Read
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
In the early days of his tenure, a chairman spends too much time reviewing the details of his proposed policy with his staff and not enough time sounding out council members to drum up support for his reforms.
The chairman’s missteps lead us to the first rule of coalition building: think carefully about how and when … Read
With thorough preparation, the help of a trained mediator, and useful reports from subgroups, participants in a multiparty negotiation should be able to find their way to the trading zone. Once they’ve arrived, the next step is to work together to ensure that everyone’s interests are met.
Recent Harvard Law School Graduate Grant Strother ’12 was selected to receive The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR) Outstanding Original Student Article Award for his paper, “Resolving Cultural Property Disputes in the Shadow of the Law.” This award recognizes a student article or paper that is focused on events or issues in … Read
Great Negotiator Award winner and former United States trade representative (1997-2001) to Japan and China, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky visited Harvard Law School to speak with students in HLS Clinical Professor Robert Bordone’s Advanced Negotiations Workshop course on October 3.
PON affiliated professor Brian Mandell was interviewed for an article on the Harvard Kennedy School homepage today discussing his intersession course, Advanced Workshop in Multiparty Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Click here to read the full article.
“The class — of which the objective is to develop the next generation of master negotiators — is structured so … Read
Multiparty Negotiation by Lawrence Susskind and Larry Crump (2008) won the International Association for Conflict Management’s 2008-2009 Outstanding Book Award at the 23rd annual IACM Conference last week.
The IACM committee stated that:
– This book is one of the most ambitious set of readings in recent memory, along side the Druckman and Diehl volumes on Conflict … Read