Negotiation Case Studies May 26, 2009

North Korea Negotiations

What if diplomatic negotiations don’t work? Over the weekend, North Korea engaged in a nuclear test that brought both concern and swift condemnation from the international community. President Obama vowed to “stand up to this behavior,” which many believe proves that North Korea is on the brink of becoming a nuclear power...

What if diplomatic negotiations don’t work?

Over the weekend, North Korea engaged in a nuclear test that brought both concern and swift condemnation from the international community. President Obama vowed to “stand up to this behavior,” which many believe proves that North Korea is on the brink of becoming a nuclear power.

Has the United States reached a point with the North Korean government in which diplomatic negotiations are no longer feasible? Bloomberg News reports that: “In the wake of the new tests, some argue that the U.S. and its allies must go beyond diplomacy to influence the North Koreans.” Some are calling for stronger international pressure. Others are arguing in favor of pressuring governments and businesses that are engaged with North Korea. Read the full article here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ad2G26D3X61s&refer=home

Although we can’t speculate on what will happen with this delicate political and diplomatic situation, we wonder whether you can or should negotiate with a party who does not seem to want to negotiate with you. Clearly, if a party refuses to come to the table, a negotiation is stalled before it even began.

However, is it perhaps not that the North Koreans don’t want to negotiate, but rather that there is such a wide cultural rift that both North Korean and United States negotiators are simply not understanding each other? Or maybe the North Koreans subscribe to the idea of winning through intimidation?

Dr. Chester Karrass is not convinced that intimidation is an effective negotiation tactic, but that does not stop an opponent from engaging in these types of threatening behaviors. Dr. Karrass, in his book In Business As In Life---You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate, identifies eight types of intimidation tactics:

1. Legal intimidation
2. Intimidation by experts
3. Intimidation by raising the stakes
4. Threats
5. Status intimidators
6. Intimidation by taking hostages
7. Physical and environmental intimidators
8. Emotional, nuisance and embarrassment intimidators

It could be construed that by conducting this nuclear test, North Korea is attempting to raise the stakes and perhaps threaten the international community. Dr. Karrass believes that there are ways to deal with intimidation tactics, namely by offsetting each tactic with actions of your own.

In this case, the stakes are so high that the United States must find a way to engage with North Korea. What would be your advice to U.S. negotiators?

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