“In all of man's written record there has been a preoccupation with conflict of interest; possibly only the topics of God, love, and inner struggle have received comparable attention.” R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa, Games and Decisions, 1957.
"There's no road map on how to raise a family: it's always an enormous negotiation." Meryl Streep.
"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” John F. Kennedy.
Throughout human history, humans beings have been negotiating.....to resolve conflict and cooperate. Often times they manage to reach agreement, and thus peace, progress and prosperity follows. Alas, on other occasions, they fail to agree, and costly conflict follows, such as wars, strikes, litigation and divorce.
Besides death and taxes, the third "thing" that is certain in life are negotiations, of all sorts, be they in a economic, social or political context.
You are a born negotiator. It is hard wired in your genes - as it is a product of biological evolution.
But to "succeed" in negotiations - that is, to strike deals as often as possible, and when you do, to get as big a slice of the "cake" as possible - it can be helpful to know a bit more about the art and science of negotiations, developed over hundreds of years.
Below is a summary of 10 of the main ideas and principles. For a detailed and non-technical introduction, see my article - the PDF of which is here.
Here is a summary of 10 of the main principles and ideas of the art and science of negotiations:
Procedure and the format of negotiations matter, particularly the initiative of making offers, rather than responding to them, confers bargaining power.
Patience during the process of negotiation confers bargaining power, while risk aversion affects it adversely.
A player's outside option - that is, your BATNA ("best alternative to the negotiated agreement") - enhances your bargaining power if and only if it is attractive and therefore credible.
If both negotiators’ outside options are sufficiently attractive, then it is likely that gains from co-operation may not exist (and the parties
may thus prefer to exercise their respective outside options).
When both negotiators’ costs of backing down from their initial demands are sufficiently large, then making such demands may risk leading the negotiations into a stalemate.
A player’s bargaining power is higher the larger is her cost of backing down from her initial demand.
When a party does not know something of relevance to the ongoing negotiations which the other party does, there is a risk of failure of negotiations or of costly delay till the relevant information is credibly communicated to the uninformed party.
Knowledge is veritable power in negotiations and enhances the bargaining strength of the better informed.
Reputation of a player, say about strength, resolve and staying power, enables her to strike a better bargain than a party with a weak background.
Populism, public interest litigation and judicial activism can paralyse negotiations unless bargaining is undertaken in complete confidentiality
and the players are well aware of the multifaceted social, economic, political and other aspects of a bargaining situation and the eventual need for accountability and transparency.
A few of my interviews and a few short articles on the Brexit negotiations, in various media and press:
Interview on the German state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, in March 2017: YouTube link is here.
Interview on the Turkish national broadcaster, TRT, in February 2020: YouTube link is here.
Interview on the Chinese state broadcaster, CGTN, in February 2020: YouTube link is here.
In The Conversation, March 2017. Link is here.
In The Guardian, October 2017. Link is here.
In The Conversation, January 2019. Link is here.
In the Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, August 2019. Link is here.
I am one of the world's authorities on the subject of negotiations and bargaining:
My 1988 University of Cambridge doctoral thesis - PhD - is on this very subject. Here is the link to my thesis at the University of Cambridge library.
My 1999 Cambridge University Press book on the subject, Bargaining Theory with Applications, has had huge impact and influence, not just in economics, but also in several other disciplines and areas such as in litigation and dispute resolution, politics and international relations, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. And it has received huge praise from across the board including from Nobel prize winners such as John Nash and Oliver Hart.
I have around 30 research articles published in top academic journals on the subject, over a period of 25 years.
I have practical experience of the subject in several real-world negotiations, including the one I reference on my homepage with John Nash.