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International Negotiation and Support: A Multi-Company Study

Tim Cummins

Companies approach international markets in the spirit of the ancient explorers, rather than treating them as sophisticated ventures to cultivate profitable deals and relationships.  And in today’s global networked economy, that is costing them business.

Nearly a third of negotiators can cite examples where deals have been lost in the last 12 months because of weaknesses in international negotiation. Our survey shows that, despite the complexity of dealing across cultures, negotiated outcomes at most corporations rely upon unstructured processes, poorly informed teams and lack of planning.

The study1 shows a substantial gap between the perceived value and importance of international negotiation and the investment being made in developing and motivating top talent or building organizational capability. Overall, there is limited training; negotiators are constrained by lack of empowerment; and there is endemic failure to build systems or processes that will assist in understanding or capitalizing on cultural differences and their impacts on contract outcomes.

The absence of any focal point for accountability means that these issues are not being addressed. Yet, as this report illustrates, the steps needed to drive rapid improvement are not complex.


International Negotiation: A Challenging Field

IACCM recently undertook a survey to widen understanding of international negotiation. With the growth of global business, the need for sophisticated deal-makers – people skilled at reconciling competing interests, bridging gaps in culture and business practice  – has rarely been higher. Executive management regularly talks about the need for top-class negotiation skills and international negotiation is an attractive field for top performers – our 2005/6 salary survey reveals that negotiators with international responsibility typically earn a premium of 15 – 20% relative to their domestically-focused colleagues.

1 “International Negotiation & Support” was a web-based survey undertaken in the period August – September 2006 and drawing on worldwide input from senior managers and negotiators in large and mid-range corporations.

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January 2007