The Negotiator Magazine

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This study scratches the surface of a highly complex issue. Our networked world is rapidly driving increased volume of international trade and the ability to negotiate and manage across boundaries – internal, external, geographic and cultural – has taken on heightened importance. For the best performers, it is without question a potential source of competitive advantage.

There are therefore few excuses for the weaknesses revealed by this survey. While it would be easy to blame executive management, the truth is that they have no qualitative or quantitative data to see the need for – or benefits that might accrue from – improvement. 

The steps needed to drive substantial improvement are not especially complex or costly. Most large corporations have the ability to generate the required insights from their own multi-national staff. They have access to networked technologies and could easily afford structured training and more consistent methodologies. They can pursue re-engineering projects that drive a global base of standard terms and agreements which offer a platform for increased empowerment.

But as with so many aspects of business performance, a lack of data means that executive management is not even aware of the pressing need for action. They rely upon staff groups to act responsibly, to assume leadership and accountability for change.

Armed with the results of this survey, there is no reason why negotiators cannot now alert their executives to the opportunity in front of them and to push for the investments that will raise their status and performance.


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Tim Cummins is Executive Director of IACCM and worked with the Founder Corporations to establish the Association in 1999. He has more than 25 years experience in commercial contracting, gained with corporations that included NatWest, British Leyland, BAe and IBM Corporation. Tim has led negotiations up to $1.5bn in value and has lived or worked in over 40 countries. While working in the Chairman's office at IBM Corporate Headquarters, he led studies on the business impacts of globalization and then successfully managed projects to reengineer IBM's global contracting processes. Tim was a member of the UK's Commercial Lead Body and has had papers commissioned by both the US Department of Labor and the UK Department of Education. For more information you may visit the association website at

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January 2007