Focal points and turning points in negotiation: a comparative analysis

Druckman, Daniel and Rosoux, Valerie (2016) Focal points and turning points in negotiation: a comparative analysis. Negotiation Journal, 32 2: 127-150. doi:10.1111/nejo.12151

Author Druckman, Daniel
Rosoux, Valerie
Title Focal points and turning points in negotiation: a comparative analysis
Journal name Negotiation Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1571-9979
Publication date 2016-04-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/nejo.12151
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 32
Issue 2
Start page 127
End page 150
Total pages 24
Place of publication Malden, MA United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract In this article, we examine the roles of focal points and turning points in negotiation. Both concern impasses in negotiation, and negotiators can exploit them to move past impasses. Each term uses the word “point” differently, however. A focal point refers to a single salient coordinating concept shared by the parties. A turning point is a departure that takes place during the course of a negotiation, when the course seems to change. Precipitants precede turning points and consequences follow them. In this article, we focus on the relationship of these two negotiation concepts. We raise the following questions: Does the development of focal points precipitate departures, and, if so, how? Do departures lead to the development of focal points, and, if so, how? Are there circumstances in which focal points do not precipitate turning points and vice versa? Do negotiations that feature focal points create more or less durable agreements? Do negotiations that include turning points create more or less durable agreements? To help answer these questions, we have analyzed four cases. In the German Foundation Agreement negotiation, the development of focal points precipitated turning points. In the South African Interim Constitution negotiations, turning point departures precipitated the development of focal points. And in the negotiations to end the Burundi civil war and to reach the Nouméa Accord between France and New Caledonia, parties shared focal points that did not precipitate turning points. These case analyses provide insights into the role of focal points in producing effective and durable agreements. They also suggest opportunities for further research on the interaction between these concepts.
Keyword Negotiation
Comparative case analysis
Durable agreements
Focal points
Transitional justice
Turning points
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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