Power-Based Bargaining/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on March 17, 2019


Professor Alain Lempereur recently wrote a brief piece for the Harvard Program on Negotiation (March 17, 2019) discussing the aborted talks between the US and North Korea. The thesis of this analysis is that failed talks often emerge from power-based bargaining. In effect, the parties default into a position of “My way or the highway”. The alternative to such a stance is the Win-Win process, where parties try to work harmoniously towards a resolution that all can live with. “When you model ethical behavior and increase your credibility as a reasonable party, you invite the other party to reciprocate.” Will Win-Win always be successful? Not if the other party does not buy into it. However, it is hard to dispute the clear advantage of being the party who can exhibit ethical behavior, credibility, and reasonableness. It is what makes Win-Win worthy of your efforts. It is possible that, in theory, one can begin with power-based bargaining and then shift into Win-Win process. However, it is difficult to make the argument that ethical and reasonable behavior is not necessary to exhibit in the first instance. It is akin to attacking Mom and apple pie. Who would want to do that?