Tactics in negotiation

Essay, 2009

5 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Task: Assignment: Please select four tactics from the list in the unit and try to find examples for them in real-life negotiation situations, either from international relations or your personal experience. Please also explain whether you think the tactics worked. (1000 words)

Within the five (in the Unit) presented basic negotiating strategies, namely competing, collaborating, yielding, evasion, and compromising, several tactics are assigned to each category. In the following, I will illustrate four tactics and evaluate them, i.e. if these respective tactics were functional or not. The tactics subsequently to be outlined are: fixing proportionalities, good cop / bad cop, escape into ideologizations and one-text approach.

1. Fixing proportionalities

This is a tactics within the strategy of compromising. Especially in cases of distributional conflicts, this policy aims at finding a solution through the allocation of certain shares – e.g. of power (based on religious confession), as happened in Lebanon. There, the political system “is characterized by the logic of confessional power-sharing in the state institutions and the public administration” (DRI 2008, p. 9). Positions are distributed among the 18 officially registered confessions according to a quite complicated proportional key. The constitution was finally modified in the so called Taif peace agreement (1989)1. Among others, the 6/5 quota of Christians to Muslims was altered to 5/5 (because of changed religious proportions in the population due to demographic reasons), entailing the assignment of half of the posts to each Christians and Muslims at a time – among others in the executive, the legislative, and the cabinet of ministers. Furthermore, the representatives of the respective religions are granted the possibility to block the political process.

However, this confessional proportionality is an essential cause for why an effective political process in the country usually is extremely delayed or even blocked, and thus often not possible. Even though “these safeguards may be reassuring for the confessional communities, they also facilitate political stalemate”2 (DRI 2008, p. 9). And albeit a paragraph to end this religious quota system “in the future” was also included, no one makes a sincere move to replace it.

In conclusion, the negotiating of quotas or proportionalities in order to find a compromise with regard to immaterial “items” like power and religion should in this special case rather be considered as interim solution, e.g. when leading a country out of a state of war towards a functioning democratic / parliamentary system.

2. Good cop and bad cop

The good cop / bad cop tactics can be subsumed under the category of competing strategies. In short, it implies that one person in the negotiation between two parties adopts the role of the “bad guy”, always giving contra, being rude and pushing etc., and the other person (s) of the bargaining team adopt the softer, friendlier and more accommodating role in order to get concessions for a desired result.

In certain cases (small group interactions, Martin 2007, p. 64) this method of striving for a deal can be quite effective – especially within the areas of police interrogation or in the security sector (USA). For instance, when working in the latter field in order to throw light on organized crime, the bad guy is in the (intimidating) position to convey clear limits that the counterpart has to stick to. This clear message can result in positive effects set off by the other party through the wish cooperate with the friendlier good guy.

However, the efficiency of such a tactic is limited to fearful or naïve persons, and of course, only to special areas of negotiation, because, as Martin concludes (referring to non-proliferation diplomacy) “the complexity of the international political environment as compared to the interrogation room has prevented the states involved from successfully adopting or effectively exploiting good and bad cop roles” (2007, p. 61). Hence, I doubt that this method will bring really good results (and in addition, a good relationship plus credibility on the long run) within international multiparty negotiations, in which professional negotiators act preparedly regarding to such behaviour.

3. Escape into ideologizations

This tactics, which finally leads to inaction or evasion, is a “specialty” in the Middle East. Confronting convincing arguments that the other side doesn’t want to take into account, the party might plead ideology or general matters of principle, so that it doesn’t have to concede. In this region, negotiations often come to a halt because of such tactics. I would like to name here the everlasting Arab/Israeli conflict and its unyielding rivals.

The Israeli sectarian and nationalist ideology of Zionism especially increased since 1967 (Zachary 2008), playing a central role in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want to end Israeli occupation, while religious Zionist movements want to settle all the occupied territories (Dowty 2007, p. 178ff.). Both parties repeatedly appeal to their specific ideologies during negotiations in order to circumvent the making of any concessions, since no side is really willing to give in to the other, which again and again leads to impasse. In this specific case it is not really an effective tactic for reaching a one-sided goal. On the contrary, a prevented solution will do more harm to the detriment of all on the long run.


1 Agreement arranged in the Saudi Arabian city of Taif, ending the appalling 15 year civil war and returning to normal political life

2 As happened for about 18 month between 2007 until May 2008, which almost lead to a new civil war after Hezbollah had “conquered” and occupied parts of Beirut, and after the Shiite security chief of the airport was suspended, because Shiite Hezbollah had installed an illegal video observance system and telephone net.

Excerpt out of 5 pages


Tactics in negotiation
Free University of Berlin  (Center for Global Politics)
International Negotiation
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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427 KB
negotiation, Verhandlung, Taktik, Verhandlungstaktik, proportionality, good guy bad guy, ideologization, one-text approach
Quote paper
Natalie Züfle (Author), 2009, Tactics in negotiation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/180103


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