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  • Archive for August, 2013

    Socrates v. Confucius: How Asians and Westerners Use a Different “Negotiator Lens”

    August 27th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Socrates v. Confucius: What a Difference a Culture Makes–and How it Shapes East-West Negotiators
     
    The Western (Socratic-based) Negotiator Lens:
     
    Many negotiators from the West were raised in an individual-based environment, which is relatively “flat” compared to many collective-based “vertical” social structures. Strange from the perspective of many Confucian, collective-based societies, many parents from individual-based groups will indirectly, and often unknowingly, begin the informal negotiation training from a very early age. This reflects the Socratic approach to teaching, which is much more prevalent in individual-based societies than collective-based societies, and is reinforced by a barrage of assignments, which tests the ability to question, such as the requirement to write critical essays. Such tasks require the person (and future negotiator) to think independently, question assumptions, and then come to a personal conclusion based on the evidence. In other words, a person in this type of Socratic-based “flat” environment reinforces the use of rationality over emotion.
     
    The Asian (Confucian-based) Negotiator Lens:
     
    in many collective-based negotiation settings, this rationale approach is at times seen as a cold, calculating and detached process, counter to their basic instincts and training. In stark contrast, the typical collective-based individual is raised by parents typically (but not always) set in a strict vertically based structure, in which dominant parent figures effectively lay down the “law of the land” in the household. The collective-based future negotiator, as a young person, is usually told, not asked, what to do. This goes from small things like what to eat, to bigger-ticket items like what to study, who to date, and when to go home. If the child in such Confucian-based structure questions what the parent says, this is interpreted as a very egregious act.
     
    Such an act is viewed as one of the more shameful in a collective-based society, in which obedience and trust is a virtue, while being branded with a betrayal mark is tantamount to a “scarlet letter” and later societal banishment (known in Korean society as wangda (왕따) and in Japanese society as murahachibu). The collective-based Confucius friendship structure is primarily also a top-down, command-and-control structure based on those with seniority (선배, sunbae in Korean, senpai in Japanese) and those who are junior (후배, hubae in Korean, kohai in Japanese). The only rare exception to the general rule is with the small band of friends in the same class year (동갑, dong-gahp in Korean). In short, the collective-based social, academic, and working structures share one commonality – they are all vertically-based top-down operating structures. This is a very important missing factor in terms of why many collective-based groups are not instinctual negotiators. For this reason, yes of course, the collective-based negotiators can negotiate, but they find it unusual and awkward, and often do it grudgingly.
     
     
     
     
    This blog is a partial excerpt from the published academic article, Mitigating Partisan Perceptions between Individual and Collective-based Groups (by Jasper Kim, International Studies Review, 2009)
     

    The Kaesong Negotiations: Why the two Koreas succeeded in getting to yes (and its implications)

    August 15th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    This blog post is based on an earlier version of a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) post and video interview that can be viewed here.
     
    After seven rounds of meetings and 133 days, the ongoing Kaesong Industrial Complex negotiations between the two Koreas culminated into a five-point agreement. The agreement’s key provisions included language to not disrupt operations within the complex unilaterally, provide for the guarantee of safety of Kaesong assets and workers, restore customs and telecommunications operations, maintain and promote the complex to attract international investments, and the creation of a joint Kaesong Industrial Complex committee
     
    What led to the bargaining breakthrough? The first six rounds of talks were mainly fruitless efforts of what negotiation analysts refer to as “positional bargaining,” in which each party states and restates its positions on a particular issue. Such positional jockeying can often lead to impasse, and even at times, a strategy of purposeful strategic non-cooperation in a form of “prisoner’s dilemma” (a simulation game in which two parties have a choice to cooperate or betray one another). This seemed to be the case with North Korea, which took the view that elongating and escalating the Kaesong negotiation process would yield a net benefit—the same modus operandi it employs with its ongoing nuclear nonproliferation negotiations.
     
    If North Korea viewed the Kaesong bargaining process as a prisoner’s dilemma, then what does it take to break its bad behavior? In prisoner’s dilemma, players betray rather than cooperate mostly out of fear and distrust, viewing the outcome as a zero-sum game in which player A’s gain must come at the expense of player B. But if fear can be mitigated and trust furthered, a greater likelihood towards cooperation exists.
     
    With such agreement leading to other talks related to inter-Korean relations, the one open question now is just how long the Kaesong agreement will last? If precedent is any indicator, it won’t take too long before discord strikes again.
     
    Contact us here at Asia-Pacific Global Research Group to see how we can help.

     
    Below is Jasper Kim’s video interview with the WSJ today: