Summary of Crisis Negotiations Essay Sample

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Involved in Peloponnesian War (Athenian vs. Spartans)| Independent, neutral island| Interest: expanding empire, conquer Melos due to economic and strategic location (had to get Melos no matter what cost)| Interest: remain independent |

Athenians sent representatives to negotiate to Melos (last chance to succumb)

What went wrong?

Athenian| Melians
Using coercion to negotiate – create bitter climate| Threats from Athenians lead to suspicion and dislike to Melos| Has military presence, which create bad atmosphere to the negotiation| Melians viewed either war or slavery| Regarded power and strength as virtues – had a right to get what they could| Argued that they are neutral not enemy| Forcefully took control of the meeting by establishing ground rules| Restriction had blocked Melian’s ability to form a strategy.Melian commissioners were forced to be defensive| Threaten: if Melians do not comply with the demands, they would be destroyed| Melians refused to give in because they believe they had nothing to gain and everything to lose|

Athenians had the negotiating power but did not exercise economic and military power wisely

Two elements created power imbalance:
* alternatives to a negotiated agreement
* negative commitments

Both use contending strategies to satisfy its positional concerns
* instead of creating value, they used claim value
* instead of being cooperative and inventive, they chose to view negotiations as hard, tough bargaining

Effect of positional bargaining
* inefficient and unwise negotiation
* unsatisfactory conclusion

Zartman (1984) suggests a series of steps in resolving this type of situation: 1) Each party must ascertain what they and other parties’ interests 2) One of the parties must demonstrate that the conflict track is too costly, and there is alternative which leads to a reasonable degree of satisfaction of the interest goals

Two possibilities when dealing with a more powerful party:
1) use third parties as intermediaries
2) formation of coalitions

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