The Negotiator Magazine

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Participants from all regions strongly prefer a specific, rather than general, agreement form. The functional groups also showed consistency in this area. However, views are more diverse when it comes to the way the agreement should be negotiated. Europe and the Americas select a 'top-down' approach, whereas Asia-Pacific showed a preference for 'bottom-up'. Sub-analysis shows that these regional averages disguise significant variations. For example, Northern Europe has an overwhelming preference for top-down, whereas a majority in Central Europe incline to bottom-up negotiation. Functional contrasts confirm that negotiators would be well advised to ensure there is agreement over the approach to agreement building; lawyers split evenly in their preference for bottom-up versus top-down; contract management / commercial have a distinct preference for top-down and Procurement is least likely to have strong views in either direction. Women show low preference for bottom-up.

Team organization and leadership is an area where cultural differences might be expected to make a difference - and they do. There is a clear divide between the preferences in US, UK and Australia for 'one leader', versus the majority in other parts of Europe and Asia for consensus. Central Europe led the way on consensus (nearly 60% having strong preference for this form) and the US was the fiercest advocate of one leader. As with agreement building, negotiators should be sensitive to the potential for different views and style on how teams should be organized and led. Functional distinctions are quite marked; Procurement / Sourcing are strong advocates of the 'one leader' approach, whereas lawyers are mostly disposed towards consensus. Contract Management / Commercial professionals are evenly split between the two options. Male participants have strong views in both directions - they are evenly split in their preference. A much lower percentage of women opt for one leader, but many more take a central position between the two options.

IACCM's past surveys have identified that Europeans consider themselves better risk-takers and risk managers than their North American counterparts. At a regional level, the participants from the Americas rated themselves lowest in terms of their risk-taking in negotiation; Europeans came highest. Those in Asia-Pacific were at the extremes - either high or low risk, few in between. At a country / sub-region level, Northern Europeans rank themselves as high risk-takers. Functional perspectives are broadly similar, with around 30% seeing themselves as high risk-takers - however, Legal is the exception here, with just 12% selecting the high-risk categories and an overwhelming 65% taking the middle ground - neither high nor low. And the different genders? They are almost identical in their views - 31% of women and 27% of men are high risk-takers; 28% of women and 29% of men are low risk-takers.

©IACCM 2006. All rights reserved.
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Tim Cummins is President/CEO of IACCM, a non-profit foundation established in 1999. IACCM has introduced the concept of commitment management as a critical competency in today's global networked business environment. The Association works with leading corporations and their senior management to develop this competency and supporting skills and ethical standards.

 

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October 2006