Summary of "The Practical Negotiator"

Summary of

The Practical Negotiator

by I. William Zartman and Maureen Berman

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: I. William Zartman and Maureen Berman. The Practical Negotiator. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1982), 250 pp.

The Practical Negotiator draws upon both theory and practice to present a model of the negotiation process. This text focuses primarily upon international negotiations.

The Practical Negotiator will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of the basic process and strategies of negotiation. This work is divided into six chapters with a foreword by Alvin Eurich. Eurich reviews the historical development of negotiation as a field of academic study. Chapter One serves as an introduction to the text. The authors' research has drawn upon three sources of data: the historical record, theories and experiments on bargaining behavior, and interviews with diplomats and UN ambassadors. Historical, experimental and personal cases are used throughout the text to illustrate their theoretical model. The authors also introduce the three key stages in their model of negotiation. In the first stage participants diagnose their situation. Secondly, they attempt to negotiate a formula or common understanding of their conflict, in terms which permit its resolution. The third stage settles the details of the conflict by applying the formula. In practice these stages may overlap.

Chapter Two focuses on the skills and personality traits needed by the practical negotiator. Helpful personal characteristics include empathy, patience, self-assurance, ingenuity, and stamina. The authors consider briefly how these traits operate in personal interactions. They then discuss the importance of enabling trust in the negotiation process, and describe the skills needed to build trust. Of central importance is the credibility of the negotiators or participants.

Chapters Three through Five discuss the stages of the negotiation process in more detail. Chapter Three explores the diagnosis stage of negotiation. The authors begin by considering the factors which prompt conflicting parties to consider the possibility of a negotiated solution (ripeness). For a conflict to be ripe for negotiation, the parties must believe in the possibility of a solution, they must believe they cannot continue their conflict, and their mutual agreement on a solution is necessary. This chapter describes strategies for recognizing and creating these conditions. Chapter Four turns to negotiation of the shared formulation or framework for understanding the conflict. The authors describe a formula as "a shared perception or definition of the conflict that establishes terms of trade, the cognitive structure of referents for a solution, or an applicable criterion of justice."[95] Formulas may be developed in piecemeal fashion, by a process of compromise on specific details. Or they may be negotiated as a set of basic principles, from which agreements on the specific details may then be deduced. The authors describe several general types of formulas. Chapter Five describes the final detail phase, where agreements are worked out and implemented. The authors analyze the various ways in which negotiating parties send signals to each other as processes of teaching, learning and communicating. They describe the need for each side to make concessions, and examine several concession strategies. They also consider the use of deadlines to motivate settlements and end the negotiation process.

Chapter Six concludes this text by examining various feature which structure the negotiation process. They consider the impact of the relative power of the various participants, the size and complexity of the negotiation teams, public opinion, the uses of various channels of negotiation, and the degree of autonomy granted to negotiators. This chapter also examines the role of cultural context in shaping negotiations.

The Practical Negotiator presents a model of negotiation which is intended to both reflect the experience of practicing diplomats, and to be a helpful guide for practicing negotiator.