When you mediate disputes in a major urban center like Los Angeles, you do a lot of cross-cultural negotiation as a matter of course. I’ve relied in the past upon the Kellogg School of Management’s Leigh Thompson and am happy to report that one of her fellow professors, Jeanne Brett has devoted an entire book to the intricacies of negotiating across cultural lines.
Excerpt below from the Wall Street Journal’s LiveMint article on Professor Brett’s book The Negotiation Dance below. I link to Professor Brett’s book Negotiating Globally because I haven’t been able to find a link to the cited tome mentioned here.
In The Negotiation Dance: Time, Culture, and Behavioral Sequences in Negotiation, Kellogg School of Management professor Jeanne Brett (with Wendi Adair, assistant professor at the University of Waterloo) presents the intricate patterns of international negotiation, providing insights designed to encourage sure-footedness.
“Negotiating cross-culturally presents many challenges,” says Brett, the DeWitt W Buchanan Jr professor of dispute resolution, “but one of the most important is how people communicate information about their preferences and priorities”.
Brett notes that negotiators from low-context cultures—those that tend to take spoken words at face value, as in the US—typically gain information about the other’s preferences by asking and answering questions. In contrast, negotiators from high-context cultures—those in which people infer additional meaning that may be implied but not directly stated—frequently keep mental tallies of offers throughout the process. This type of behaviour is common in China, India and Japan, among other places.
“It’s important for negotiators from low-context cultures to learn to read information from the offer patterns of the other side, so as not to be at a disadvantage when a negotiator is reluctant to share information directly,” notes the professor, who has authored more than 50 articles and four books, including Negotiating Globally, which won the International Association for Conflict Management’s Outstanding Book Award in 2002.
The Negotiation Dance, published in Organization Science in 2005, presents a model that Brett teaches her students to facilitate tracking offers, infer preferences and priorities and record a visual picture of the progress of the negotiation.
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