by Guy Deloffre, ICN Business School – ARTEM Campus
This article explores the way that international negotiation skills can be integrated into an academic course. The article explains components that are of the utmost importance in teaching such course to business students at the undergraduate and master’s degree levels.
The main goal of the international negotiation course is to create a framework and series of skills that students can utilize in real-life global business environment. In order to accomplish such goal, the course requires several stepping stone components:
- How to take away the students’ existing perceptions and personal positions regarding business negotiation process;
- How to build new constructs and point of reference for successful international negotiation;
- How to deal with cultural and educational differences of the negation team members;
- How to polish the required skills by applying real-life and simulation cases.
Taking Away the Existing Perceptions
On average, students in this class come from five to six countries. The first step in teaching an international negotiation course is to direct students to discard any existing perception regarding how to approach a negotiation scenario. The main goal of this part of the course is to create understanding that personal position needs to be set aside when one is part of a negotiation team (e.g., Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B., 1991). In order to achieve this goal, students are given a particular scenario for negotiation. They are then directed to develop objective criteria separate from their personal positions in order to engage in negotiation for the given scenario. All developed objectives are collected and shared with the entire class. Through in-depth discussions, students score the objectives (best to worst) relevant to their effectiveness in achieving consensus for a successful negotiation.
The outcome of this part of the course is to ensure students could recognize that their personal positions would not necessarily be the best remedy for achieving success in negotiations. By setting aside personal positions during negotiation sessions and developing objectives that are acceptable and of mutual interests to all parties involved, the team could pave the way for a successful negotiation.
Building New Business Negotiation Models:
The second part of the course introduces students to different negotiation models (e.g., Coltri, L., 2004; Moran, R., Stripp, T., & William, G., 1991; Raiffa, H., 1982) and diverse negotiation scenarios. In this part of the course, students are grouped into teams in two stages. In the first stage, students of similar cultural background/county are put in a team. Real-life negotiation and simulation cases with diverse array of variables are used in this part of the course. Student teams are directed to study each case and relate it to a studied negotiation model. Then, each team is required to apply the learned knowledge to develop a new negotiation contract. The developed contract by each team is then examined in relation to the financial effectiveness of the final agreement. In the second stage, each team is formed of students from different cultural/country backgrounds. The same cases are given to these teams that are asked to go through the same exercise. The results of the negotiation exercises are shared and discussed with the entire class.
The goals of this part of the course are to demonstrate that even the teams with similar cultural/country background encounter difficulty in developing a homogenous negotiation strategy. Such difficulty manifests itself much stronger when a team is made up from people of different countries. For example, Peugeot PSA Group (a French corporation) acquired Opel (a Germany branch of General Motors). Thus, a negotiation team from this merged corporation will have people of different cultural/country backgrounds. Regardless of their cultural/country background, this team needs to negotiate in a uniform manner for the benefit of the Peugeot PSA Group.
Major obstacles in developing a mutually agreed upon and effective negotiated contract are due to different cultural, educational, and professional experiences of the negotiation teams. Such obstacles manifest themselves in a much serious manner in real-life environment when parties from different countries are at the negotiation table. Consequently, a main component of this course deals with incorporation of cultural and educational differences of the negotiation team members into international business negotiation process (e.g., Deloffre, G., 2009).
Incorporation of Cultural and Educational Differences into International Business Negation Process
In this part of the course, students are trained to recognize that a unified strategy in negotiating a contract is of the utmost importance to the survival and success of the company. As a result, training is heavily focused on enhancing cultural harmonization and taking advantage of educational diversity within a team. In addition, students are guided to set aside individual dimensions of cultural differences and take advantage of educational diversity of the team to evaluate different options (e.g., Radtchenko-Draillard, S, 2003; Semnani-Azad, J., 2015).
One of the examples given in this part of course is about a company’s team made up of operations and finance employees. The contentious issue among the team members is over buying extra options as part of the contract. The operations management team members prefer purchasing these options for technical safety while the team members from the finance department are against it due to higher financial burden. Some student teams decide to buy the options while some other teams decide against it. These decisions are then dissected as to which decision would have been the best strategy and the least risky for the company.
The focus of this part of the course is to take advantage of different educational backgrounds in risk assessment and at the same time trying to harmonize the cultural differences while going through a negotiation process (e.g., Thompson, L. 2001, 2003; Wheeler, M. 2006).
Teaching an international negotiation course to business students encompasses several components that truly mirrors the real-life environment. Different cultural and educational backgrounds and diversity of personalities and predispositions in approaching a contract negotiation are all components of real-life negotiation process.
Through step-by step instructions, exercises, and debates, we can build skills and enhance training with the potentials of creating a team that can deliver a successful negotiation. Discarding predispositions and harmonization of cultural differences and personalities are the first step in creating an effective negotiation team. Building congruency along the diverse cultural backgrounds and taking advantage of educational differences of the team members further enhance the skills needed for any productive negotiation.
Audebert-Lasrochas, P. (2004). Comment différencier négociation et vente. Revue Française de Gestion, no 154, pp. 141-155, 2004.
Coltri, L. (2004). Conflict Diagnosis and Alternative Dispute Resolution, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
Deloffre, G. (2009). Pédagogie de la négociation dans la formation des responsables, bilan d’une experimentation. Revue Internationale de Psychosociologie, Volume XV, no 37, pp 163-172, hiver 2009.
Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In. Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
Moran, R., Stripp, T, & William G. (1991). Successful International Business Negotiations. Gulf Publishing, Houston.
Radtchenko-Draillard, S. (2003). Les aspects culturels de la negociation international. Les Cahiers Psychologie Politique, no 3, Avril 2003. http://lodel.irevues.inist.fr/cahierspsychologiepolitique/index.php?id=1602
Raiffa, H. (1982). The Art and Science of Negotiation, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Semnani-Azad, J. (2015). Reading Your Counterpart: Culture, Meaning, and Function of Nonverbal Behaviour in Negotiation. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/9533
Thompson, L. (2005). The Mind and heart of the negotiator. Pearson Prentice Hall, 3rd Edition, 2005.
Wheeler, M. (2006). Teaching Note: Is Teaching Negotiation Too Easy, Too Hard, or Both? Negotiation Journal, April 2006, pp 187 – 197, 2006. Wiley Online Library. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1571-9979.2006.00094.x/full
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Guy Deloffre holds a Ph.D in Education Sciences from the University of Lorraine, Nancy, France. Dr. Deloffre studied German and English and marketing in Valenciennes, France and then studied communication at the University Paris XIII, Paris, and at Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada.
Dr. Deloffre has been an associate professor and scholar at ICN Business School, Nancy, France, since 1994. He is currently the Director of the MSc in International Business Development at ICN Business School. Dr. Deloffre teaches courses in communication, HRM, and specifically negotiation and international negotiation to different groups of students and company executives. Dr. Deloffre has lived in Germany and Canada in addition to France and his teaching activities have taken him to more than 15 countries, including Russia, Luxemburg, the USA, Poland, England, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Mexico, Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, and China.