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    “Decoding Kim Jong-un: What North Korea’s Leader Wants” (Forbes op-ed, Jasper Kim)

    February 14th, 2017  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Below is a truncated version of the original Forbes op-ed piece.
     
    For the full Forbes op-ed, click HERE
     
    This weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fired not just his country’s first missile test since U.S. President Donald Trump took office this year, he also fired the opening shot in a high-stakes negotiation match between two seemingly unpredictable alpha male world leaders.
     
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
     
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
     
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
     
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
     
    Words or action?
     
    Sanctions as sticks are not working as hoped to compel good behavior . Could diplomacy vis-à-vis China work? At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that Beijing would be willing to cooperate with Washington given Trump’s apparent intransigence about China, along with growing evidence that the PRC may be having less sway over the DPRK.
     
    Could then a pre-emptive military strike be a feasible option? In short, given that South Korea’s capital of Seoul has approximately ten million residents sitting in the backyard of the DMZ, which acts as a thin buffer between the two Koreas, the possible military and economic ramifications are too vast to justify a risky military encounter.
     
    This is why Kim finds himself relatively unrestrained from ordering missile test after missile test despite international outcry and sanctions. In fact, such outcries and sanctions are the very justification Kim needs to solidify his power base to his negotiation audience — his inside circle of advisers and elderly military leaders — that the outside world is truly “hostile” to their homeland.
     
    Direct appeal
     
    But perhaps there may be a better alternative to military strikes and more sanctions — why not speak directly to Kim himself to find out what he wants?
     
    A negotiation is defined as “getting what you want.” And most successful negotiations occur when both sides get at least a little of what they want. But too often, even the most experienced parties make sweeping one-size-fits-all assumptions about what the other’s demands are. As studies show, we see things as we are, rather than as they are. In other words, people superimpose their wants, fears, and values onto those with whom they are dealing.
     
    Past and perhaps even current U.S. officials have assumed that Kim is all about ruthless self-preservation. Others claim he wants a peace treaty, strong economy — even reunification. Statements from the North’s state-run KCNA news agency can also be viewed as negotiable first offers packaged in bombastic bluster.
     
    Which of these does North Korea’s leader want? We simply need more information to know. After all, information is power in negotiations.
     
    But rather than making broad-sweeping assumptions, a simpler and more effective approach exists: Just ask.
     
    For the amount of resources, lives, and security risks involved, the amount of direct communication between Kim and the most senior U.S. leaders commensurate to North Korean leader’s level of seniority have been negligent to nil. From the perspective of the Confucian and Stalinist-driven mindset of this young leader, it’s critical that a presidential level leader be present in the room. After all, the messenger is the message.

     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    The End of the “One China” Policy?: Trump Using The “One China” Policy as a Bargaining Chip

    December 5th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    trumptaiwanprcflags-copy 
     
    In recent days, US President-elect Trump has received criticism both domestically and internationally over his recent phone call from Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen.
     
    Given that the US has recognized a “One China” policy since 1979, what could be the meaning of Trump’s latest actions–defying decades of existing apparent political protocol?
     
    This is a broad question that will be further delineated from an apolitical perspective using a “negotiator’s lens.” As a self-professed negotiator, Trump has taken the view that “everything’s negotiable,” the following reasons could underly the President-elect’s decision to speak directly with Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen.
     
    1. Why would Trump receive a call from Taiwan’s Tsai, given the potential for antagonizing China?
     
    The answer is simple. Trump spoke with Tsai to increase Trump’s bargaining power over China.
     
    From a negotiation perspective, China has generally viewed its nearly four decade “One China” policy with the US as a given. The One China Policy–negotiated by Kissinger and Nixon in the 1970s–is a policy that is viewed with great weight and pride by Beijing. After all, it is arguably because of the US-PRC’s One China policy that allowed China to definitively assert itself from a regional to a global purview as a diplomatic–as well as economic and military–powerhouse.
     
    By following long-held diplomatic protocol, Trump most likely took the view that the US would gain relatively little, if anything at all, as a new negotiator-in-chief. Even with the One China policy in a status quo state under the current Obama administration, tensions between the US and PRC have, if anything, escalated in the form of increased military tensions and posturing both in and outside the Asia-Pacific region.
     
    Why not then—from Trump’s negotiator’s mindset perspective—remind Beijing not to take the One China policy for granted? Why not remind Xi Jingping of the possible, albeit remote, risk of the US increasingly and purposely, as a negotiation strategy, taking greater notice of Taiwan? Even if such overtures from Trump towards Taiwan fall slightly short of an outright reneging on the One China policy, such negotiation tactic can increase the US’s negotiation power vis-a-vis Beijing. This could translate into greater terms and conditions for the US regarding things it wants from China now or in the future.
     
    As a rough analogy, imagine you are a partner for a large firm undergoing a perfunctory yearly performance review. Under normal circumstances, your mind would normally be preoccupied with the possible upsides that you hope to receive from your other partners (negotiation counterparties), such as the amount of your yearly bonus. But instead, imagine that the firm’s partners instead tell you that there’s a chance that you could be fired. Thereafter, after you go through various nightmare scenarios in your head of you looking for a new job, finding ways to support your family, and/or seek ways to live on your current savings, the partners thereafter inform you, “Well, congratulations, after some internal contemplation, you’re not fired after all; you get to keep your job, with all its current rights and obligations.” The outcome is still the same–the status quo. But surely, you will agree that such an unexpected and shocking review process will now serve as a renewed impetus towards dealmaking on behalf of the firm in the future.
     
    2. Why did Trump not follow traditional diplomatic protocol as suggested by certain experts and bureaucrats, including the US State Department?
     
    Tradition and protocol is good until it is not. In other words, the benefits of diplomatic tradition and protocol may, at a certain point, be outweighed by its constraints. This type of thinking is why so many of the best and brightest minds from around the world have constantly sought to seek US shores, rather than other countries, for jobs, education, and citizenship. It is because traditions and protocols that originally acted as fundamental pillars within certain societies suddenly became weighted tipping points and constraints in terms of limitations on individual and economic freedoms. This was certainly the case with the US colonies when it was ruled by the UK monarchy, leading to the Declaration of Independence and the formation of a new republic.
     
    As a political presidential candidate, Trump represented the epitome of an unorthodox political candidate. Trump’s supporters liked him not because he followed protocol in terms of his speeches and rhetoric, but to the contrary, because he challenged the norm, status quo, and political elitism.
     
    It should thus be no surprise then that Trump, now as President-elect, is trying to “think different” by not following the typical dog-and-pony show that certainly can exist in bureaucratic circles in Washington, DC, Beijing, and elsewhere.
     
    Why do such protocols exist in Washington, DC? From a negotiation theory perspective, it is based on a “not-to-lose” negotiation mindset, known as a dispute settlement negotiation (DSN) mindset, as opposed to a “play-to-win” negotiation mindset, known as a deal-making negotiation (DMN) mindset.
     
    A “not-to-lose” DSN mindset is often the mindset of cautious bureaucrats who fear risk rather than seek opportunity. Such a mindset is often based on a working assumption that the status quo (par) is as good as things can generally get. However, such extreme caution can lead to the tangible risk of missed opportunities and gains by taking a “play-to-win” DMN mindset–the type of dealmaking mindset that President-elect Trump proclaims to have, and appears to be taking based from his past business dealmaking experience.
     
    3. Could Trump’s perceived lack of possible diplomatic predictability lead to “lost in translation” communications between the US and its allies and foes?
     
    The short answer is yes. However, the rest of the world will adjust. This may seem somewhat pompous and arrogant, but it is true. The US, in the era of Pax Americana, is the world leader in terms of military, economic, and diplomatic might. For many countries, particularly non-liberal democracies, the election of a potentially new US president every four years is often perceived as a relatively frequent affair compared to the potential life-long tenure of an undemocratically elected dictator, king, or military ruler. And with what is often the case with an incoming US president from a competing political party, such new president will not only be busy trying to undo his predecessor president, but also have a unique personality and style while in the Oval Office, and thus, in communicating with world leaders.
     
    Presidential candidate Trump has already used very direct language during the course of his 2016 campaign, including those directly aimed against Beijing. But Beijing is so far not in apparent panic mode. So far, China’s leaders have more or less taken a “wait and see” patient approach–a wise, strategic move. The world should follow suit.
     
    Maybe President Trump will adjust his language, tenor, and approach once in the White House, maybe not. But one virtue of being the world’s most powerful man in the world’s most powerful nation, is that the world will adjust, if anything because the world has little choice but to adjust to the style of a new US president.

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    How did Trump Win the Presidency?: By Thinking Like a Negotiator (Lessons

    November 18th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

     trump-asia-powerpnt_2016-11-11_13-15-36
     
    In ancient Greece—the genesis of Western civilization and thinking—the Greek goddess Athena was known to be the securer of “victory.” She also awarded the dealmakers that brought forth victory. In Oresteia, the Greek goddess Athena proclaims, “I admire…the eyes of persuasion.”
     
    Viewed from an apolitical lens, the Greek goddess would have certainly admired the persuasion, tactics and strategy underlying Donald Trump’s US presidential bid that brought forth an unlikely victory.
     
    To Trump’s supporters, comprised of a diverse voting group including both rich and poor, his victory was an affirmation of Trump’s call to arms against political elites and the perception that America could be great again. To Trump’s critics, his victory was a complete and utter shock that seemed to defy all odds.
     
    To some political pundits and so-called political experts—many who belittled, criticized and grossly underestimated Trump at every turn–it became clear that they needed an update. Their expert predictions and assumptions were outdated and antiquated, advising that future elections should be similar to past elections in terms of tone and rhetoric.
     
    But meanwhile, while these so-called experts were sleeping, the world became flat and hyper-connected due to unforeseen technological tectonic shifts. In the advent of today’s “super-social” era–in which communication is dominated by 140 crafted characters through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook—such weathered expert experience ultimately translated into a net liability, rather than an asset.
     
    So how did Trump win the US presidency? By thinking like a negotiator.
     
    This then begs the question: What exactly is a “negotiation”? According to the Harvard Negotiation Project, a negotiation is defined as “Getting what you want.”
     
    Trump is a self-proclaimed negotiator and dealmaker. He has authored books such as The Art of the Deal, while proclaiming in a recent interview that, “Everything’s negotiable.”
     
    As such, during Trump’s campaign, he was in constant negotiations—with the Republican Party, Democratic Party, the media, and the voting public—to get what he wanted. At each level, Trump was waging a “David versus Goliath” negotiation war, from his purview, in which each and all of these “negotiation opponents” were, at one point or another, against him.
     
    Think for a moment what Trump’s victory, a high-stakes negotiation game, entailed. Since 1988, apart from the current president, the political landscape was dominated by just two family names: Clinton and Bush.
     
    Trump—a political newcomer, but not one with negotiation naiveté–slayed both family dragons in the course of a single election cycle.
     
    Should you be worried or concerned that Trump is now President-elect Trump, given his tone and rhetoric on the campaign trail?
     
    Again, some so-called experts will provide a simple binary analysis for simple minds—a flat yes, that he is the precipice to a new era of an isolated America (rather than a continued era of Pax Americana)—or a flat no, that he will be the savior that America needs in a dangerous world.
     
    But a third, more nuanced and honest answer exists. We simply do not yet have enough information to give a credible answer. What type of information should we be waiting for then? Actual “evidence” in the form of tangible policy action once Trump is sworn in as the forty-fifth US president. Maybe Trump will be great, maybe not. But much like a courtroom, you would not want a judgment about you made against you before the evidence has been thoughtfully and impartially adjudicated.
     
    And what about all of Trump’s seemingly fiery campaign statements? As savvy negotiators know, first statements are often mere first offers.
     
    Trump views everything through a negotiation and dealmaking lens. This will have implications in the US and other regions, including in Asia.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with North Korea’s regime? It looks like Trump would not be completely adverse to face-to-face negotiations with Kim Jong-Un. After all, in any negotiation, to get what you want, you have to know what the other side wants.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with Beijing when it comes to trade? Hopefully, a President Trump will understand the basic negotiation lesson in a tit-for-tat (TFT) negotiation, which often leads to a lose-lose scenario involving mutually-assured destruction (MAD). In such a prisoner’s dilemma scenario, it often benefits both sides to cooperate rather than compete.
     
    As former US President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    Development Financing for Education in Asia: The Case for Development Impact Bonds (DIBs)

    April 14th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    educationfinancing 
     
    To help developing countries and regions become more self-sustaining, a means of attracting alternative education funding is needed. Given the large populations of developing countries, education in those countries will have an immediate impact not only on individual countries but also on a global scale.
     
    Providing education-based resources should not be the sole responsibility of the public sector. The private sector should also play a part in securing greater funding for education, which generates many positive economic and social spillover effects. But how can interested parties such as states, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) collaborate with private sector entities to secure scarce funding for education projects?.
     
    OECD data demonstrate a clear downward trend in total official development assistance (ODA) to the education sector from donors. For example, in 2009, education aid commitments amounted to $15.7 billion, compared with $13.1 billion in 2012, a $2.6 billion decrease in just three years.
     
    Moreover, education ODA as a share of total aid has consistently lagged behind health and population programs, while also similarly reflecting a downward trend. For example, in 2009, ODA for health and population programs represented 12.2 percent of total aid, compared with 8.7 percent for education in the same year. While aid for health and population programs increased from 12.2 percent in 2009 to 12.9 percent in 2012 (increasing steadily every year), the opposite trend occurred in the area of education, which received 7.7 percent of total aid in 2012 as compared to 8.7 percent in 2009, the percentage decreasing steadily every year.
     
    If the targets for education in the post-2015 development agenda are to be met, greater educational funding is needed, not less. Why not, then, simply issue bonds as a remedy? In short, bonds issued by sovereign issuers would increase debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios, which in turn could negatively impact credit ratings for the country in question, thus raising the price of financing overall for the sovereign issuer. Even at the IGO level, a crowding-out effect exists in which a critical issue arises: What sectors will be funded with scarce donor funds? If the OECD data pattern extends to bond issuances, education financing may again face relatively less funding as compared with other social programs.
     
    One innovation solution exists through a market-based public-private partnership (PPP) known as development impact bonds (DIBs), which are a subset of the social finance field as well as the finance, law, and development fields.
     
    DIB Transaction Components and Participants:
     
    In broad terms, the main legal DIB stakeholders (social and financial networks) include:
    • Social impact investors
    • Intermediary
    • Government (or IGO)
    • Service provider
    • Assessor/evaluator
    • Advisor
    • Constituents (assistance project, program, or persons)
    • Local community/society at large
     
    From a legal purview, DIBs are a series of interrelated contracts that secure funding in an innovative, market-based manner. From a social finance purview, DIBs are a bond-driven funding mechanism between public and private sector parties. In the DIB structure, two parties take opposite positions in regard to “success metrics”—with one party providing education financing if the designated project is deemed successful, and a counterparty providing education financing if the project is deemed as not successful—relating to a socially beneficial/development-oriented project.
     
    Integrating such key development finance technologies and tools can create next generation DIB funding structures for education development projects and programs. These DIB funding structures can mitigate market risk, improve liquidity, and foster greater participation in both the public and private sectors for participants aspiring to provide education financing as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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    Negotiating with Powerful Parties: 5 Strategies

    December 23rd, 2015  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    powerbalance
     
    The recent and original Star Wars trilogies involve an epic clash between good and evil. Within the context of the Star Wars story line, a small rebel alliance was pitted against a seemingly much larger galactic Empire (The First Order, in the recent plot line of The Force Awakens).
     
    Such epic clash may appear like the concoction of science fiction rather than a real world scenario. But this is not exactly true.
     
    Switch the Empire/First Order with a larger competitor/superpower. Then switch the Rebellion/Resistance with a smaller start-up/organization/non-superpower. Now things become all the more real with very real and practical implications.
     
    This then raises the question: What is the best negotiation strategy for dealing with a seemingly larger and more powerful counterparty?
     
    Below are five (5) strategies supported by practitioner perspectives, but also academic studies:
     
     
    1. IS YOUR COUNTERPARTY REALLY MORE POWERFUL?
     
    Your foe may seemingly appear larger and thus more powerful. But it’s important to note that larger is not more powerful in every contextual situation.
     
    The benefit of being a larger entity is often a general association with more resources–along with greater scale and scope (i.e., domestic or global footprint/presence). But in certain situations, being large can have its distinct disadvantages. Such disadvantages can at times outweigh the advantages of being a larger entity. For example, a behemoth company may be overly diversified, with its resources spread out overly thin, domestically and globally.
     
    Think: The Roman Empire. The reason for the Roman Empire’s implosion—seemingly at the very pinnacle of its power–was ironically due to its string of prior successes (of conquering people, land, and resources). The Roman Empire was simply too large to succeed. In the current era where technology and being nimble is a strategic advantage, being too large is arguably now a sine quo non to stress-testing, collateral damage, or outright collapse of a larger entity or foe.
     
    Much like the Roman Empire, the Empire (First Order) appears like a foe that can easily defeat the Rebellion (Resistance). But as we see in the Star Wars mythology, a smaller often ill-equipped band of unlikely heroes can prevail over a larger more organized and well-equipped foe.
     
     
    2. IS YOUR COUNTERPARTY WILLING TO USE ITS POWER?
     
    A key strategic question is will your counterparty understand and actually use its power? First, does your foe understand its actual power? You may believe this is to be a given. But it is worthwhile to stress-test this working assumption. For example, even just prior to the U.S.’s delayed entry into World War II, it was arguably uncertain from not just America’s perspective, but its other Allies as well as its enemies, just how powerful America’s entry would impact the outcome of the war. In hindsight, it was a game changer. At the time, it was not so certain.
     
    Second, is your negotiation counterparty actually willing to use its power against you? It’s important to note that the question to ask is definitively stated one, without the ambiguous “may” or “could” wording that clouds a clear strategic analysis. The answer should be a definitive and categorical yes or no, based on the best available imperfect information attainable (at the time, and of course, given the circumstances).
     
    For example, regarding the Korean peninsula, a key question would be: Is North Korea actually willing to use its nuclear weapons against its enemies (above and beyond mere saber rattling)?
     
    In the lighter context of the Star Wars trilogies, the key question would be: Is Darth Vader willing to use the Death Star to destroy planets (and stars)? The answer in A New Hope (Episode IV) was an emphatic yes, as demonstrated when the Death Star used its laser weapons capability to destroy Alderaan, the home planet of Princess Leia (who was then being held captive by the Empire to solicit information about the whereabouts and plans of the Rebel Alliance). Similarly, in The Force Awakens, the First Order Star Destroyer’s “Catapult” superweapon was in fact used to destroy many lives (above and beyond the mere appearance of having such power).
     
     
    3. TAKE PRE-EMPTIVE STRATEGIC STEPS
     
    Take strategic steps to maximize the likelihood of your success. As Sun Tzu claimed, “Every battle is won before it is ever fought.”
     
    If you’re the smaller party, fighting a battle in the traditional sense is a game that will often be geared against you than in support of you (i.e., pivoted towards a loss than a gain). Thus, strategically, you should seek to delay, divert, or dispense of the need for battle with your larger counterparty.
     
    Strategically, understand what is your GPS (Game rules, Payouts/Penalties, Strategy) vis-à-vis your opponent. Next, step into the shoes of your foe to calculate the other side’s GPS. In doing this, assign a person to play the role of your adversary foe. This will help clarify and extend the relative perspectives of both sides in terms of positions (what you/foe want) and interests (why you/foe want such positions). This in turn will help clarify your negotiation strategy analysis.
     
    Next map out a “decision tree” of possible best next steps, with assigned probabilities. For example, let’s say you are a small Silicon Valley start-up about to negotiate with Google (a tech titan). Further along in this simplified hypothetical, let’s say you then consider, calculate, and then ultimately conclude that the possible decision tree possible outcomes could be (1) majority buy-out (30% probability); (2) minority investment (35% probability); and (3) no agreement (35% probability). As before, this is calculated on the best available imperfect information at the time.
     
    In Star Wars: A New Hope and The Force Awakens, the smaller renegade group of rebel fighters determine that their GPS would be to counter-attack the Death Star (Star Destroyer).
     
     
    4. USE INFORMATION STRATEGICALLY FOR TACTICAL ADVANTAGE
     
    Negotiation is an “information game.” If you have a competitive advantage in information, the game pivots more towards a win for you (or your team/organization/country).
     
    But where do you get information about your negotiation counterpart? First, seek information from publicly available information (Google, public filings, the press, news articles, etc.). Second, seek information from your foe’s other counterparties, enemies, and even friends. Specifically, find out who they are, then reach out and make strategic contact with them. You can be honest and say that you are making contact merely to get information on how to best work with a particular entity with which the person who has been contacted has had prior dealings. Third, for all remaining data, seek information directly from your counterparty (through a separate but related negotiation communication strategy).
     
    In The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) could have solicited information about the Empire from Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Lando, as mayor of Cloud City, had prior dealings with the Empire, who stayed strategically neutral until Han and Leia’s unexpected arrival to Cloud City sufficiently incentivized Lando to betray Han and Leia (however, Lando then later betrays the Empire by subsequently helping Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 to escape along with Han Solo in frozen carbonate form).
     
     
    5. KNOW YOUR “WALKAWAY POINT”
     
    What is your “walkaway point”? This is your negotiation decision matrix anchor—based on your personal metrics (i.e., money, emotion, pride, nationalism, etc.). Knowing this information, you will know the general limits and boundaries of your “yesable” negotiation range. Without knowing this information, you will conversely not know the general limits and boundaries of your “yesable” negotiation range. This in turn will increase the likelihood of you not knowing what you ultimately don’t want (as well as what you do want in your dealings with your counterparty opponent). This is a very dangerous position to put yourself or your organization–especially when such risk can be mitigated through this suggested strategic approach.
     
    For example, in the 1990s, when Microsoft was being investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged antitrust behavior at the time, Microsoft’s management team should have considered whether it would allow Microsoft to be broken up into smaller independent entities onshore if legally compelled to do so, similar to the case of the Baby Bells previously. Or alternatively, would this be beyond its walkaway point, compelling Microsoft to consider other alternatives, such as moving some or all of its offices offshore to other countries? Knowing such valuable walkaway points is not just useful, it is absolutely critical.
     
    In Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) determined that his walkaway point for an impending and epic light saber duel with Darth Vader would be the ultimate sacrifice of his own physical body (although he would continue to exist in non-physical form through the Power of the Force).
     
    In summary, these are five (5) concise strategies (of many more that can be utilized), which are easy to implement and extremely value-added.
     
    These strategies have proven to be the difference maker when it comes to negotiating with larger and seemingly more powerful counterparties.
     
     
     
    Sources: Kim, Jasper (2015); Adler, R. S. & Silverstein, E. M. (2000).

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

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