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Reader’s Review, August 2014

By John D. Baker

Negotiating Globally: How to Negotiate Deals, Resolve Disputes,
and Make Decisions Across Cultural Boundaries, Third Edition

By Jeanne M. Brett
320pp. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 2014
Hardcover (USA) $49.21

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Jeanne M. Brett is the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations and the Director of the Dispute Research Center at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (USA). Professor Brett initiated Northwestern University’s MBA courses in negotiations in 1981 and in cross-cultural negotiations in 1994.

Dr. Brett has published a wide range of journal articles, an extensive collection of teaching materials, and is the co-author of Getting Disputes Resolved with William Ury and Stephen Goldberg and the single author of Negotiating Globally. Joanne Brett is the recipient of many awards for educational achievement. She holds A Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

In this era of international business relationships, global business entities, and economic interdependence, the ability to negotiate deals, resolve disputes and harness resources across multiple cultures has become a new negotiation priority. This book and others of its focus, offers the essential points of view, cultural distinctions, strategic directions and techniques required to begin the study of international negotiation. Most importantly, it presents the essential reasons why and how these new business interactions succeed and outlines the skills so greatly needed by the professional negotiator today. Enhanced by new insights and new research, Jeanne Brett’s Negotiating Globally enters both its third edition and its third decade as a guide to the effective and efficient practice of global negotiation.

Ideally, cultural insights are learned through travel and experience within other cultural milieus. In fact, however, the world is a vast and varied place, requiring more knowledge of its wrinkles than most of us are likely to gain by our experience alone. We need the collective capability of research and organized presentation for both the breadth and the depth of expertise required to master a subject as large as global negotiation. Specialized education is one of the most common and affordable manners for the mass distribution of such information. Commonly, undergraduate and graduate programs as well as executive M.B.A. s tailored for the experienced manager and corporately sponsored in-service education provides the vehicle for such training.

Jeanne Brett’s Negotiating Globally is a product of such an academic program conducted at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, one of the premier business schools in the United States. The book is a text book created out of the research stimulated and conducted with the participants in that program and those of other institutions, and organized and presented by the course professor/author, Dr. Jeanne Brett.

Despite the fact that many readers have an aversion, if not an intense dislike and disdain for the text book genre, text books are among the basic resources in the very courses we demand as preparatory for assessing performance competency. Clearly, therefore, the text book should be an important guide to learning any complex topic. Dr. Brett’s volume is one of those works.

With all this as preface, let us take a few minutes to make note of some of the topics you will find in this third edition of Negotiating Globally. Recognize, too, that the research detail that enriches the book’s topics is left to you the reader to discover and not a focus of this review.

After a brief look at several basic negotiation topics, the author moves quickly to examine three distinct cultural prototypes and the core beliefs that shape each of the groups. We begin with dignity cultures comprised of persons who live in Europe and the United States, move to face cultures practiced by persons who live in East Asia, and conclude with honor cultures which dominate in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Latin America.

Using this trilogy of cultural prototypes, we learn to understand both the variances in the views of each group from the other on such fundamental concepts as self-worth, power and status, sensitivities and trust, but also the implications of those differences on human interaction. Importantly, we also begin to learn how to work successfully with these cultural differences in deals, dispute resolutions, and a host of other interactions between individuals, businesses, and governments.

From this broad introduction, the book focuses on separate areas of global interaction, highlighting methods and skills needed for working in multi-cultural teams, dealing with governmental regulatory and investment issues, and intensely exploring on strategies on such topics as enhancing the joint value of deals or creating structures to effectively manage global projects effectively. There is much in this book which every negotiator needs to learn as they prepare to expand their practice to incorporate a global view of negotiations. This book provides a valuable means to accomplishing that end.

The book includes an extensive and useful Glossary, both a Name Index and a Subject Index, and a rich Notes section that is certain to gladden the life of any student of negotiation.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine  August 2014 Copyright © 2014 The Negotiator Magazine