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Managing Complex Negotiation Interactions

By John D. Baker

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Negotiations are powerful forces, becoming ever more powerful as they grow in complexity and reach. Yet, negotiation literature largely ignores the management required for success. Too often, our focus is narrowed to the negotiating table. Success in complex negotiation situations requires a broader focus on the management of the outside forces that are generated by the interaction and impact it. The negotiator must be the rumor control point, the leak shut-off, and the reactive actor to all affected interests who may be concerned with the outcome. It is a vital task for negotiation success.

To illustrate the importance of complex negotiation management, the current Seven Party negotiations on limiting Iran’s nuclear development program and some of the sanctions imposed upon it, offer an insight into the management complex negotiation task. Let us explore the staggering complexity of the management challenges negotiations that have arisen in this case.

To this date, the negotiation team has announced that a basic framework for an agreement has been accomplished despite the doubts of many persons that such a framework could an ever be achieved at all. Now, we await the fate of more and even more delicate negotiations to accomplish a final agreement and its adoption by the involved nations. The work accomplished to date, has been quite a feat by the negotiators from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran.

Not surprisingly, opposition to the proposed agreement has been fierce as negotiations move closer to an actual agreement. This is the time in the negotiation when the fate of the agreement is in greatest peril. Risks are amplified by both internal and external forces who seek to influence the results.

Some of those risks are internal, inherent in the unspecified details, the unsolved problems and the assessments of the participants at the bargaining table and the assessments of the principals who, at the end, must approve the deal, sell it at home, and implement it.

Many of the risks are from external interests who are not at the table and have no official voice or platform. These persons still clamor to influence and/or even control the deal in process. Without access to official information, rumors take on life, mistakes in fact are uncorrected, and demands for the acquisition of decision power become more vital and more urgent.

Managing Complex Negotiation Interactions by John D. Baker


Copyright © 2015 John D. Baker
Copyright ©   2015  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  May 2015