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BRAND: A Study of Principled Negotiation Based on the Chinese Harmony Thought

In the latest volume of the BRAND, Shougang Zhang and Milan Constantinovits shows the importance of international negotiation in the process of globalisation.

Cultural diversity has determined many failures in different domains, especially when it comes to negotiation. Influenced by climatic, geographical or historical factors the Western civilisation had a different course of history – concerning marketing concepts – in contrast to the Asian one. Even so, there are four techniques to obtain a positive answer in most of the situations, regardless of the geographical position.

Chinese Five Elements Theory
Chinese Five Elements Theory

The astonishingly fast economic growth of China has created difficulties for the Western people in understanding the Chinese negotiation system. The complex system of marketing (Chinese harmony thought) has emerged by mixing ideologies of ancient Asian religions (Taoism, Confucian, and Buddhism).

The four principles of Chinese negotiation (Chinese harmony thought) are ‘Separate the people from the problem’,Focus on interests, not positions’, ‘Invent options for mutual gain’, and ‘Insist on objective criteria.’ It may seem that these sentences are barely moral values illustrated via poetical structures, but in fact, they focus on the principles of common sense; technique considered to grant success in marketing.

The principled negotiation is regarded by many as ‘too soft’, whereas this so called ‘art‘ should more or less a fight to obtain the goal. This technique stands for win-win situations; where mutual respect and peaceful attitude of both sides are essential. An interesting fact is that the Chinese principle of negotiation: Separate the people from the problem is found in Fisher’s and Ury’s (Westerners) theories. Whose main purpose is to illustrate the dichotomy between the sensible and the sensitive approach to a situation. After realising this difference the negotiation is ought to become highly objective and the results are ought to be faster and better.

The comparison made in the article: A Study of Principled Negotiation Based on the Chinese Harmony Thought is meant to highlight the striking resemblances between the two methods, therefore showing a way of converging Western negotiation principles into Chinese ones, or vice-versa.

Andreea Toma