Summary of Crisis Negotiations

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  • Topic: Negotiation, Melian dialogue, Delian League
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  • Published : January 10, 2013
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Crisis Negotiations Between Unequals by Heinz Waelchli and Dhavan Shah

Case Illustration:

Impractical power negotiation the Melian Dialogue between Athenian Empire and ppl from isle of Melos

Both Athenian and Empire engaged in hard positional bargaining – no tradeoff and mutual interest/agreement

Effect: DISASTER the destruction of Melos


Who are they?

Athenian Empire| Isle of Melos|
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...
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