TITLE:  Getting to Yes
AUTHOR: Roger Fisher and William Ury
COPYRIGHT:  New York: Penguin Books, 1991

Getting to Yes is a helpful guide for parties entering negotiations on almost any issue.  The book advises individuals to focus on interests rather than positions before developing solutions, and offers guidance for various scenarios.

Behind all of the hype about this Harvard Negotiation Project piece is the clear distinction between arguing over positions and arguing over interests.  Positions are what people begin the argument with; they are what people usually express in their opening statements concerning a dispute.  Interests, on the other hand, are the feelings and thoughts that led an individual toward the position he or she created -- why there is a need to negotiate in the first place.  The authors provide a helpful story to illustrate this distinction.

Consider the story of two men quarreling in a library.  One wants the window open and the other wants it closed.  They bicker back and forth about how much to leave it open: a crack, halfway, three quarters of the way.  No solution satisfies them both.  Enter the librarian.  She asks why he wants the window open:  To get fresh air.  She asks the other why he wants it closed: To avoid the draft.  After thinking a minute, she opens wide a window in the next room, bringing in fresh air without a draft.

While the parties concentrated on their positions they could not come to a satisfactory solution.  When the librarian concentrated on the parties interests and not positions, she was able to offer a much more acceptable solution.

This scenario may seem elementary at first, but the authors are quick to highlight when the same logic has been used in international conflicts.  They document the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty negotiations at Camp David with surprising similarity to the simple story above.  This technique, describing unresolvable disputes resolved by the methods highlighted in the book, is used with much consistency in the Negotiation Projects most recent productions.

Beyond the premise of interest / positional bargaining , Getting to Yes discusses the importance of separating the people from the problem.  A negotiation should see past individual differences and biases, and the authors provide some framework for the reader to practice that skill.  Taking out personal bias and adding understanding to all parties makes searching for interests behind positions an easier task.

Once the negotiator separates the people from the problem, and begins to see both sides interests in the outcome, he or she can move toward solutions for mutual gain.  Non-critical brainstorming, and other  activities take place at this stage, and then afterward the negotiator evaluates the solutions based on some type of objective criteria.

TITLE:  Getting to the Table: The Process of International Prenegotiation
AUTHOR:  Janice Gross Stein (Editor)
COPYRIGHT:  United States:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989
Getting to the Table is a collection of works with a focus on the many issues that nations contend with when they consider international negotiation.  Janice Stein weaves together writings from William Zartman, Brian Tomlin, Gilbert Winham, Franklyn Griffiths, Fen Osler Hampson, herself, Ronald Fisher, and concludes with a piece of her own.

The writers discuss various different scenarios in which a nations leaders considered international negotiation as an option.  From trade disputes to Cold War arms control, the authors cover a wide range of conflicts from this century.

Prenegotiation, Zartman argues, is very close to being a step in the entire negotiation process.  The actions and reactions taken during this phase can at times have a greater effect on the negotiations than certain actions taken while at the table.

Janice Gross Stein and Franklyn Griffiths take opposite perspectives in describing the steps toward arms control between the Cold War superpowers (Stein: US, Griffiths: USSR).  This created a comprehensive look at the situations and options both countries faced, and how negotiation came to be the most attractive solution.  Somewhat surprisingly, it seems both superpowers, at one time or another, sought to negotiate only when all other options had been eliminated.  To bolster strength for their causes on the homefront, they did not want to seem weaker by suggesting an end to the arms race.  This observation excludes the USSRs actions during the post-WWI negotiations.

Winham and Tomlin focus on the Uruguay Round and North American Free Trade, respectively.  This was especially interesting because of all the dynamics that are involved in trade negotiation.  These negotiations often deal with States that are long-time allies which each have individual needs and interests, however, their interests come into conflict with the interests of the other.  Winham highlights the attempts of Brazil to gain influence at a conference.  This need came in conflict with that of the United States.  Winham notes that, even in negotiations when every nation has a voice, the strongest still can dominate.

Getting to the Table offers a blend of historical reference and theoretical knowledge.  How states could make the out of prenegotiation is discussed at detail at the concluding chapters, and much time is given to problems that frequently arise during prenegotiation.