Systematic Analysis in Dispute Resolution

By Stuart S. Nagel; Miriam K. Mills | Go to book overview

Clausewitz ( 1976) observed similar phenomena in the conduct of war, and described these phenomena with the memorable phrase, "the fog of war." A similar term could also describe many international negotiations. What is especially needed in teaching and researching negotiation processes is to appreciate the nonrational aspects of real negotiations, and simulation is a good methodology for addressing this issue.

Simulations that faithfully model real negotiations have the capacity to bring nonrational factors into the laboratory where they can be closely observed. There is apparently some intellectual resistance to doing this, however. For example, Bracken ( 1984: 798) has noted that when large-scale political military games are played within the U.S. government, the inevitable problems that arise with coordination and communication are usually seen as defects of the game. As a result, there is a tendency to use smaller, more controlled games where organizational dynamics are unlikely to intrude or where information exchanges are unlikely to get fouled up. Bracken argues the smaller games lack the capacity to explore the institutional or organizational behaviors associated with conflict management, which are "the most poorly understood part of deterrence" (p. 799).

In the same manner, the negotiation simulations described here address some of the less understood aspects of negotiation theory. These include especially the impact (intended or otherwise) of organizational structure on communication; the process of establishing negotiating priorities within and between parties; the effect of intraparty communication (and transmission of instructions) on relations between negotiators and their governments; the effect of bureaucratic politics; and the evaluation of final offers. Because simulation is an inexact methodology, it is unlikely it will lead to rigorous testing of propositions about negotiation behavior. However, it is the most successful means for training individuals in some of the important but less analyzed aspects of negotiation behavior.


APPENDIX: DESCRIPTION OF FOUR NEGOTIATION SIMULATION EXERCISES

Trade Negotiation Simulation (TNS)

Description : The TNS is a four-country trade negotiation over 30 products. The purpose is to achieve a reciprocal agreement reducing tariffs and other restrictions on these products. Each country is represented by a home government and a negotiating team (NT).

Use : The TNS can be conducted in two to four days. Personnel can range from 13 to 25. Documentation includes a 60 page scenario (including trade tables) and additional material specifying instructions, communication rules, and so on. The exercise has been conducted twice ( 1974-75) for Canadian FSOs at the Department of External Affairs; five times ( 1975-78) for U.S. FSOs at the Foreign

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