The "Other" Recreated : A Relational Approach to East-West Negotiations
Abstract: This study proposes the relational approach to negotiations to further our understanding of the negotiation relationship. At the center is negotiators' outlook on the other and themselves in East-West cooperation projects. This approach to negotiations is pluralist. Consequently, a number of theories have been utilized. First, using feminist theorizing in philosophy and International Relations, the question of objectivity, identity, social position and knowledge production is discussed. The relational approach entails giving up the idea that scientific work can be cleansed of its subjective and affective baggage. Instead, the researcher's biases and social context ought to be used as "evidence" in the research process. Secondly, negotiations are conceptualized as dynamic social processes and the interaction and communication between negoti-ators are analyzed. It is argued that to focus on one actor at a time is nonsensical since the actors influence each other's behavior, thinking and self-images when negotiating. Actors create meaning and sense of identity as they interact. The approach employs theories of communication, social psychology and intercultural communication. Thirdly, in the relational graph the empirical material is presented as a typology of four meetings. The author conducted open-ended interviews with 27 negotiators and had numerous conversations with negotiators and people with experience from East-West cooperation projects. She also coordinated a project between two youth organizations in Sweden and Russia between 1992-95. The four types of meetings in the typology are first, the meeting of different masculinities, in which the interaction is viewed in terms of being between two types of masculinities. Secondly, the mirror meeting is described in which the parties view the other in similar ways. The third type of meeting is the concurring meeting where both sides' descriptions complement an overall picture of the negotiation relationship. Fourthly, in the other recreated the relationship is described in how it evolves over time, from enthusiasm to aversion. The negotiation relationship becomes untenable as new stereotypical other images grow stronger. Many East-West cooperation projects turned out to be a disappointing experience for those involved and, in general, both sides expressed feeling relieved when working together was no longer "necessary" due to practical reasons.
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