The Negotiator Magazine

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But our study revealed that most international negotiators do not feel their work is held in high esteem. Is this because there is a gap between management statements and on-the-ground reality, or might it be that those within contracts, legal, sourcing or commercial groups are not generally performing as top-quality players?

Our study drew input from several hundred international negotiators representing 94 corporations (of which 50 have annual revenues exceeding $5bn). The participants came from 26 countries and 14 industries.


A Good Place To Be?

We found that just 28% feel that the role of negotiators is held in high esteem by their organization, not far ahead of the 16% who feel that it is a role of low esteem. And supporting this question mark over status, 52% feel that lack of personal empowerment is limiting their effectiveness (against just 12% who feel adequately empowered).1 Compounding this picture is the lack of investment in development and training. Nearly 70% have acquired their knowledge through experience and self-teaching, with just 27% of corporations offering any form of training on international negotiation or cultural understanding.

This lack of training is interesting, since 93% of respondents believe that international negotiation requires specific and sophisticated skills and knowledge and 63% feel that their organization understands this. But in the end, the picture of the typical international contract negotiator is roughly as follows:

There are significant geographic and national variations in the findings. For example, Procurement negotiators feel more constrained and less valued than their colleagues in Sales Contracting. US negotiators interestingly feel they are held in higher esteem, but do not feel as strongly that there are major skill and knowledge differences between domestic and international negotiation. UK negotiators rate highest when it comes to esteem, but among the lowest for their level of empowerment.
Our colleagues in Germany are among the least satisfied. They do not consider the role carries significant esteem (72%); they feel a major lack of empowerment (86%). Of all groups, they are the most likely to have been offered international negotiation and cultural training (63%), but they feel it was ineffective (80%).

1 The survey revealed significant geographic and functional variations. For example, in the US, 40% feel they lack empowerment and 19% feel adequately empowered, while in the UK 60% wish for more empowerment and just 8% feel they have enough. Sales contracting and Legal are substantially more satisfied on this issue than those in Procurement (34% versus 9%).

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January 2007