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Political negotiations: characteristics and related performance disincentives

Valentin Ade (Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland and Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 19 June 2019

Issue publication date: 20 August 2019




The media, private citizens and other stakeholders regularly appraise political negotiations, but the character of these negotiations and the reasons for outcomes are little understood. The purpose of this conceptual paper is to discuss this character and explore its implications.


This is a conceptual paper. The author carried out a literature review and used his experiences in supervising political negotiation simulations.


The author argues that political negotiations have several specific characteristics that distinguish them from other kinds of negotiations. Political negotiations, for instance, tend to address often rather fuzzy public interests, involve value conflicts or are simultaneously performed “on stage” and “behind the scenes.” These characteristics may matter, as they can provide structural disincentives to negotiators, who might be tempted to focus on selling outcomes rather than on improving them (“saleability-oriented negotiating”). Hence, the author argues that political negotiators and their stakeholders face the challenge that political contexts may foster weak negotiation performances.

Practical implications

The author proposes an approach to political negotiations’ training that takes the findings of this paper into consideration.


This paper is the first, to the best of the author’s knowledge, to provide a detailed characterization of political negotiations and to discuss related implications.



The author wants to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and acknowledge the help and suggestions for improvement by Martin Albani, Elisa Lux, Frank Stadelmaier, Sarah Brockmeier, Mark Young, Roman Trötschel, Carolin Schuster and Jan Fichtner.


Ade, V. (2019), "Political negotiations: characteristics and related performance disincentives", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 349-368.



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