Tuesday, November 13, 2012

N10: Multiple Parties and Teams

N10: Multiple Parties and Teams


This chapter is discussed about a multiparty negotiation, which is negotiation process in where more than two parties are working together to reach a collective objective. In the multiparty negotiation process, each party has his own preferences and priorities. Therefore, a meeting is required to make a discussion about the best options for everybody and make a collective decision. This is a multiparty negotiation that involves unique dynamics in a collective decision-making process.

However, the process is not that easy to manage. There are factors that make multiparty negotiations more difficult to manage than one-on-one negotiation. First of all, Number of parties makes the negotiation become bigger and create challenges for managing several different perspectives. It is difficult to ensure that each party has enough time to speak his own preference and be heard. Secondly, informational and computational complexity brings in more issues, more perspectives on issues, and more total information. Increasing the number of parties make the negotiation situation less lucid, and more demanding. Many people involving in a decision-making also create social complexity. The social environment would change from a one-on-one dialogue to a small-group discussion. As a result, all the dynamics of small groups begin to affect the way the negotiators behave, and participate. Besides, when more parties are involved in a negotiation, the process individual has to follow is more complicated. Parties take longer time to present the issues and it takes longer to reach the negotiation objective. The parties may have to negotiate a new process that allows them to coordinate their actions more effectively. Finally, multiparty negotiations are more strategically complex than two-party ones. The negotiator must consider the strategies of all the other parties at the table and decide whether to deal with each of them separately or as a group.

Since there is many parties involve in the negotiation and the process is complex, negotiator should know the effective ways to deal with it. There are three main stages that characterize multilateral negotiations: renegotiation, actual negotiation, and managing the agreement. In the renegotiation stage, the parties would deal with participants, coalitions, defining group member roles, understanding the costs and consequences of no agreement, and learning the issues and constructing an Agenda. In the formal negotiation stage and managing the group process and outcome, to ensure a high-quality group decision, the parties have to appoint an appropriate Chair, use and restructure the Agenda, Ensure a diversity of information and perspectives, ensure consideration of all the available information, manage conflict effectively, review and manage the decision rules, strive for a first agreement, and manage problem team members. At last, in the agreement phase, four key problem-solving steps are to select the best solution, to develop an action plan, implement the action plan, and evaluate the just-completed process.

At last, multiparty negotiation is like a group decision-making in which all members are trying to reach a common solution in the situation but the parties’ preferences may be different. Therefore, parties need to understand thoughtfully its process, develop strategies to deal with the issues, and understand how to make their group as an effective group.


1. What are the key stages in multilateral negotiations?

Here are the three key stages that characterize the multilateral negotiations.

The pre-negotiation stage:
Characterized by many informal contacts among the parties
·         Establish participants
·         Form coalitions
·         Define group member roles
·         Understand the costs and consequences of no agreement
·         Learn to issues and construct an agenda
Agendas can be effective decision aids:
·         Establish the issues that will be discussed
·         Define how each issue is discussed
·         Set up the order in which issues are discussed
·         Introduce process issues (decision rules, discussion norms, member roles, discussion dynamics), and substantive issues
·         Assign time limits to various items

The formal negotiation stage: Structures a group discussion to achieve an effective and endorsed result.
·         Appoint an appropriate chair
·         Use and restructure the agenda
·         Ensure diversity of information and perspectives
·         Key process steps:
-  Collect thoughts and composure before speaking
-  Understand the other person’s position
-  Think of ways both parties can win
-  Consider the importance of the issue
Remember parties will likely work together in the future

2. What is an effective group in a multiparty negotiation?

Effective groups and their members:

·         Test assumptions and inferences
·         Share all relevant information
·         Focus on interests, not positions
·         Explain reasons behind statements
·         Talk in specific terms and use examples
·         Agree on what important words mean
·         Disagree openly with any member of the group
·         Make statements, and then invite questions and comments
·         Design ways to test disagreements and solutions
·         Discuss “discussable” issues
·         Keep discussions focused
·         Avoid taking cheap shots or distracting the group
·         Expect participation by all members in all phases of the process
·         Exchange relevant information with non-group members
·         Make decisions by consensus
·         Conduct self-critiques

3. When will multiparty involve?

Dynamics change when groups, teams, and task forces have to present individual views and come to a collective agreement about a problem, plan, or future course of action.

What’s the difference between multiparty negotiations?

Differences between two-party and multiparty negotiations:

         Number of parties
         Informational and computational complexity
         Social complexity
         Procedural complexity
         Strategic complexity

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