The Strategic Complexity Of JFK’s Negotiations During The Cuban Missile Crisis

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Most negotiation theory has been developed under the assumption that negotiation is a bilateral process—that there are only two focal negotiators opposing each other. Yet many negotiations are multilateral or team deliberations—more than two negotiators are involved, each with his or her own interests and positions, and the parties must arrive at a collective agreement regarding a plan, decision, or course of action. This week, we explored the dynamics of two forms of multiparty negotiations: when multiple parties must work together to achieve a collective decision or consensus and when two or more teams are opposing each other in a negotiation.

One theme that runs through all forms of multiparty negotiation is the need to actively monitor and manage negotiation process because these negotiations are significantly more complex than two-party negotiations. We present here a brief set of questions that any participant in negotiations involving coalitions, multiple parties, or teams should keep in mind:

• What are the consequences of the parties failing to agree due to the increased complexities we identified here? What happens if there is no agreement?

• How will the parties involved actually make a decision? That is, what decision rules will be used? Why are these the best possible rules?

• How can the parties use iterations—multiple rounds of discussion—to achieve their objectives? (This may be particularly appropriate when the decision rule is consensus—or the best-quality agreement—because consensus may not be achievable in a single iteration.)

• Do we need a designated chair or facilitator? Should it be a neutral outsider, or can one of the parties fill this role? What tactics can a facilitator use to manage the process in order to ensure that the best decision is reached? (These tactics might include ensuring that the parties are exposed to a variety of information sources, managing the process to make sure that the group considers and discusses all available information thoroughly, and structuring the group’s agenda with care.)

If these issues are raised and thoughtfully considered, the parties involved are considerably more likely to feel better about the process and to arrive at an effective outcome than if these factors are left to chance.

Now the paper is to “Read about JFK’s negotiations during the Cuban missile crisis. Describe the social, procedural, logistical and strategic complexity of this negotiation” (250 words).

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