Magazine article Management Today

MT Learning Curve

Magazine article Management Today

MT Learning Curve

Article excerpt

Brinkmanship

What is it? There's hardball negotiating, and then there's brinkmanship With the former, you fight unflinchingly but you always make it clear that a deal can be done. There is a hint of the possibility of movement, if not on a large scale. The brinkman, or woman, does not budge. At all They just stare and stare, in a grand game of chicken. It is ultra-high risk. You may not know how the stand-off will end, or how your opponents will react. And if you look down from the brink, all you see is a deep, steep slide into black emptiness.

Where did it come from? Being social animals, and also mercantile ones, humans have bartered and traded for millennia. Violence - that is, war - was the only alternative when deals could not be done. Brinkmanship usually ended unhappily. In more civilised times, brinkmanship has not always led to conflict or trade wars, although the fiercest dictators - Hitler, Stalin - usually brook no denial. A generation later, Kennedy and Kruschev adopted brinkmanship that appeared to take the world to the edge of nuclear catastrophe in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. …

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