The_Structuralist_Dilemma_in_Negotiation - The...

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The Structuralist Dilemma in Negotiation William Zartman Research Group in International Security January 1997 Negotiation takes place when neither party in a conflict is strong enough to impose its will or to resolve the conflict unilaterally. In those negotiations, the parties are formally equal, since each has a veto over an acceptable outcome. Yet two-party equality produces deadlock. Yet obviously there are power differences between the parties, asymmetries which can be used to break the deadlock. But these asymmetries then raise the structuralist dilemma: How can weaker parties negotiate with stronger parties and still get something? Expecting to lose, a weaker party should want to avoid negotiation with a stronger party at all costs, but it cannot; and, expecting to win, a stronger party should have no need to negotiate to get what it wants, but it must. Yet weak parties not only engage stronger ones in negotiation, they usually emerge with payoffsÑand often with bigger payoffsÑin the end. How does one account for the structuralist dilemma, and what is the effect of power symmetry or asymmetry on negotiation? The dominant schoolÑincluding the author of this work (Rubin & Brown 1975; Zartman & Berman 1982; Morgan 1994, 14l; Young 1967)Ñhas long maintained that power symmetry is the condition most propitious for mutually satisfying negotiations and efficient attainment of optimal results; if asymmetry favors the more powerful, it indisposes the less powerful and delays joint agreement. An opposing argument that, to the contrary, it is asymmetry that is productive of faster, better agreements has rarely been made and the reasoning behind it is not intuitively obvious. This question is examined here, with some surprising results. The Many Concepts of Power Much of the answer hangs on the notion of power itself. The traditional definition equates power with force, as in the "realist" school in international politics (Waltz 1954; Dahl 1976, 47-48). The equation of power with force (in the social, not natural, science sense) is so pervasive that any discussion of power is "forced" to first clear the air by pointing out that force is a narrow aspect of power that changes the other party's positions by eliminating or threatening to eliminate the other party. It is thus distinct from the larger exercise of power involving persuasion, influence, leverage, and pressure. Power as force alone is a definition that is ideological, reductionist, inaccurate, and narrowing; and this definition has done much to weaken a sound, thorough discussion of power. Conceiving of power as force alone is ideological because it becomes a justification for violence and a devaluation of non-violent means of causation. It is reductionist because it equates cause with its ultimate expression alone. It is inaccurate since it denies the power of other causes. And it is narrowing in that it divides political science from its own subject, since force as power is of no help in analyzing intra-state as opposed to interstate politics. Force is indeed an element of power, a factor of importance, but it stands with others in producing the same
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effect. Power as force does not fit with the structuralist dilemma, neither resolving it
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This note was uploaded on 12/17/2011 for the course B.A 13 taught by Professor Cr during the Spring '11 term at Haverford.

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The_Structuralist_Dilemma_in_Negotiation - The...

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