Software Helps Resolve Negotiation Stalemates

Posted: January 7, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

For several years Daniel Druckman, Vernon M. and Millie I. Lynch Professor of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR), has been working on a computer-assisted tool for diagnosing progress in international negotiation and resolving stalemates. A collaboration last winter between ICAR and the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology resulted in a more accessible and user-friendly program, dubbed the Negotiator Assistant.

Druckman recently co-wrote an article about the Negotiator Assistant, “Computer-Assisted International Negotiation: A Tool for Research and Practice,” which is scheduled to appear in the peer review journal Group Decision and Negotiation. He will also present the program at the Hawaii International Conference for Systems Support this month. The program is suitable for someone who has experience with any specific negotiation case, either a negotiator or a scholar familiar with the case.

“It has been designed primarily for intergovernmental or international negotiations,” says Druckman. The tool also can be used for class simulations, with class members doing the diagnosis in the context of negotiating in the role-playing exercises, he says.

The program focuses on flexibility as a key to successful negotiation, and processes answers to the questions to provide a diagnosis of flexibility and a description of the likely outcome of an ongoing negotiation. When the projections indicate an impasse, the program provides a help window that includes suggestions for addressing and possibly resolving it. The suggestions are based on actual experiences in historical cases as well as on findings from experiments.

For more information about the program, contact Druckman at ddruckma@gmu.edu.

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