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Nobody would argue that negotiations play a pivotal role in many spheres. A modern approach to negotiations, which is quite complicated, rarely results in positive outcomes. In other words, growing negotiation deadlocks have become apparent, which is why a need for a comprehensive strategy for addressing this issue respectively emerged. The following paper elucidates causes of negotiations impasse and appliance of solving model. The study reveals that non-material factor is the strongest influence concerning negotiations impasse, which is why a non-linear methodology should be designed for a successful location of a solving model in a practical environment. The study also develops a meaningful framework and methodology aimed at implementation of a solving model for negotiations deadlocks.

Negotiations and Solving Method

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that a modern business environment as well as geopolitical tendencies imply numerous complications for negotiations. Negotiations remain to be a key factor for many spheres of human activity, creating various approaches to meeting successful agreements between all parties of negotiations. However, external factor places a dramatic pressure on most of negotiation processes. As a result, negotiations do not produce desirable effects as they occur in a situation of impasse. However, negotiation deadlock is also a natural phenomenon, but a need to avoid such scenarios is apparent to many international organizations, politicians, and businessmen. That is why an effective complex of solutions is required for an empirical applicability. One of such complexes is a solving model. In case if negotiation deadlock is caused by multiple factors, solving model is the most effective strategy for addressing an impasse.

To clarify the purpose of the study, it is appropriate to outline that it focuses on discussion of main causes of negotiations impasse as well as applicability of solving model. The paper presents the entire system of causes as they are reflected in implementation of solving model within empirical environment. In a similar way, the study describes and tackles the issue of solving model. Furthermore, it describes a specifically designed framework and methodology for locating the model in the environment of negotiations impasse.

Executive Summary

Contemporary negotiations often result in impasse, as parties are unable to reach a certain agreement with each other owing to numerous reasons. Nevertheless, modern cognitive and communicative strategies deeply address negotiation deadlocks. One of such strategies is a solving model. Taking it into consideration, the current paper focuses on discussion of the causes of negotiation deadlocks and investigates a solving model as the simplest and most efficient problem-solving strategy. The paper develops the entire system of causes and factors influencing negotiation deadlocks, as well as designs a comprehensive methodology and framework for operating solving model in the empirical environment.


Causes of Negotiation Impasse

It is appropriate to indicate large groups of preexisting influences among a wide range of causes and factors of impasse in negotiations. The first one is a material perspective. Negotiating parties are expected to allocate some material resources for achievement of a certain common goal (Alusine & Kanu, 2011). First of all, both parties tend to consider their contributions risky for a wide range of reasons: unjustified requirements to contributions, effectiveness of outcomes, possibility to lose material resources during contributions process, etc. (Alusine & Kanu, 2011). For instance, an investor does not want to invest a suggested amount of money in a company, as the firm may not guarantee sufficient returns on investment. Hence, the investor demands more from the company for the same investments or refuses to invest a required sum at all. Such a tendency can be explained by the fact that it reveals short-run consequences for both parties. Contribution to a common goal can produce its positive impact for a long time since it is a matter of both parties’ activity.

As for non-material influence, it is less strong since long-run results are more explicit to the both parties. Nevertheless, in cases when non-material factor matters, it occurs to become more influential than material one. Negotiation parties usually resist reaching a consensus provided that their key positions, concepts, ideology, or outlooks are challenged or even ignored (Alusine & Kanu, 2011). It leads to an increase in material demands since ideologically challenged party is attempting to cover its toleration in ideology through enhancement of their value. For example, one of negotiation countries refuses to enact a certain reform, but its opponent demands it as the primary requirement. The country may quit negotiations or demand a discount for a certain debt from the opponent. It is becoming increasingly apparent that non-material influence is much broader as it affects material factor as well as other causes of negotiations impasse.

Consequently, most of deadlocked negotiations are accompanied with absence of emotional underpinning affecting the engagement with the opponent (Goodwin, 2014). Making a particular contribution or even tolerating the opponent’s demand are associated with leaving a comfort zone (Goodwin, 2014). Extents of emotional underpinning are usually limited because of lack of mutual intelligence, so that parties do not see far-going objectives of each other. Therefore, parties try to leverage their demands in accordance with false objectives of the opponent. For the same reason, an objective of the entire negotiations can be also vague so that the parties do not feel sufficiently motivated for unpopular cooperation. Negotiations are supposed to be based on the prevalence of empathy, otherwise a common goal will not be achieved (Goodwin, 2014). However, lack of empathy emerges owing to a difference in goals of negotiators.

Thus, absence of the emotional comfort is fairly an internal perspective, which is why each party is expected to regulate it regardless of the process of negotiations. As it has been mentioned, each party has to provide a benefit for the other party or make a particular contribution to a common action. This action addresses an overall priority that may seem to be unimportant for a single party, but it also conveys distinct advantages for the entire group of negotiators. Under these circumstances, absence of priority awareness is strongly persistent because negotiators fail to appropriately estimate and allocate common priorities (Zarate, Camilleri, Kamissoko, 2014). It results in negotiation deadlock as parties attempt to address different priorities at the same time. To the greatest extent, negotiators neglect to pay attention to a global context of negotiations that occurs to be essential, otherwise the negotiations lose their primary sense. Priority is quite a broad term, but the main cause of negotiations impasse is a wrong understanding of a common priority rather than an essence of the priority itself.

In some cases, a basic common sense can become a cause for negotiations impasse (Rose, 2011). Cases when it is reasonable to quit negotiations commonly occur, which is why a reasonable decision can be technically regarded as a reason for negotiations deadlock (Rose, 2011). A certain party can decide not to quit negotiating, but to keep insisting on its interests as it considers only one justified way that makes it worth to participate in the negotiations. In the light of this perspective, several questions emerge. For instance, how to justify adequacy of negotiations? What shortcoming and long-term consequences will the negotiations have? False addressing of these questions also results in negotiations impasse, so that a failure as well as success to identify a common sense within terms of particular negotiations may lead to deadlock in further cooperation.

Overall, non-material influences occur to imply a wide range of aspects while material factor modifies similar causes of priority awareness and common sense. A visualized hierarchy of causes of negotiations impasse can be viewed in the illustration below. Thus, this tendency is quite typical of a contemporary trend of non-material evaluation of performance. In other words, non-material items have obtained control over material issues. In such a way, prolonged deadlines negotiations usually reflect on payments for construction companies, etc. They cannot offer a certain time frame of their services for a required amount of payments. Similarly, the entire system of contemporary negotiations works. That is why deadlocks in negotiations happen on a regular basis as non-material factors are more difficult to measure, leverage, and calculate. In response to this trend, a solving method is designed to address non-material issues.

Non-material issues

Figure 1. Non-material issues

Solving Method

One of the recent developments should be discussed in order to elucidate a solving method. In fact, prioritization of negotiations is recommended to be visualized so that each party will be able to see the overall context. For that purpose, bar charts are used to demonstrate all priorities and respectively allocated requirements to every single party within a group of negotiators (Zarate et al. 2014). Parties are enabled to distinctly see what they are required to contribute for achievement of a certain common goal. It creates a global context that will render a needed level of priority awareness. What is more, bar charts are easier for perception as long as each party is able to measure its capacities and intentions related to the negotiations (Zarate et al. 2014). This method proved to deliver high-scale accountability, but certain implications should be also considered. Visualization of priorities simplifies decision-making process while their comprehension faces some difficulties as the experiment demonstrated relatively high degree of misunderstanding bar charts.

In other words, some parties fail to comprehend purposes of bar chart as the data presented in them occurred to be complicated (Zarate et al. 2014). It may lead to a substantial misunderstanding of priorities so that negotiation impasse will be still possible. To avoid such possibility, simplification of this technique is recommended (Zarate et al. 2014). It will not confuse negotiators and boost the process of decision-making as certain decisions influence a final solution of negotiation’s issue. Method of visualization should be applied to a standard solving model as well as to any other strategies for addressing deadlocks and mediations. It is worth mentioning that prioritization does not have to involve a complete disclosure, as it is empirically impossible. This is an evident gap in technology of visualization, but a common practice suggests that appliance of this technique in combination with a standard solving model provide high efficiency and accountability for various types of negotiations.

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An ensured consistency of a standard solving model should be indicated. Solving model is unified as long as negotiations impasse is a common problem for the entire group. Thus, a single solution to the issue has to be presented. Solving model presupposes six steps of activities in order for a manageable agenda to allocate responsibilities of involved parties (Restructuring Associates, 2008). The following solving model leads to a favorable environment for positive changes, helping negotiations to finally succeed. In the same way, step-by-step approach contains rationale for each activity, which is why risks and internal doubts of the opponents are minimal (Restructuring Associates, 2008). In general, solving model is quite simple, but it remains an efficient strategy for addressing negotiation deadlocks. It bases all solutions on relevant evidence that is satisfactory for all parties. Additionally, it relies heavily on well-designed solutions, so that potential success of negotiations is initially high.

The solving model follows a cyclic pattern and involves six steps in a sequence presented in the Figure 2 below.

Cyclic pattern

Figure 2. Cyclic pattern. (Restructuring Associates, 2008).

Solving model starts with defining the basic problem. It has to be specified, but awareness of potential causes of impasse will simplify the process of problem identification. This step has to be conducted collaboratively, otherwise there is a probability to define different problems (and not relevant ones, as a common practice witnesses). This step determines the entire vector of further problem solution, which is why detection of the basic problem should be as objective as possible. The second step is identification of specific causes of the problem (Restructuring Associates, 2008). Again, ability to recognize general factors of negotiations impasse will orient negotiators towards a particular area that should be addressed. Causes are the most specified elements within a solving model, which is why their identification should not be thwarted with concerns about the opponent’s opinion (Restructuring Associates, 2008). At the same time, none of the parties should be scrutinized. These two steps are essential for the entire process of problem solution because they help to establish a collaborative relationship between parties.

The third step involves development of multiple and diverse alternatives of solution. All parties have to generate a maximum of ideas regarding the identified problem regardless their methodology and implications for each party. The main purpose of this step is to create a scope of possible actions in order to avoid negotiations deadlock. Furthermore, each solution should be related to a specific cause of the problem while similar ideas can be merged into entire concept models (Restructuring Associates, 2008). These simple activities will increase effectiveness of the model as well as satisfaction of the opponents. In consequence, a choice of the most appropriate problem is the fourth step of solving model. A solution should be selected in accordance with its technical feasibility and general acceptance that will be rendered a priori as it is the result of a common work on the problem.

The fifth step is implementation of the solution. This is the most difficult stage since a wrong choice of priorities may result in a failure of negotiations. Hence, solutions are supposed to be implemented according to the prioritization of negotiations. This step requires a proactive involvement of visualization technique. Eventually, the sixth step presupposes evaluation of the outcomes. Provided that some results are unsatisfactory, the same sequence of actions should be taken once again (Restructuring Associates, 2008). The main purpose of solving model is to simplify and specify the problem of impasse, which is why it is subdivided into six independent steps. However, approaches to problem detection, solution development and implementation, and estimation are usually non-linear because multiple parties participate in problem-solving process (Restructuring Associates, 2008).

Supplementary Driving Force

Besides the primary solution model, it is appropriate to implement a solution-focused mindset among negotiators. This mindset complies with solving model and represents basic requirements, which are the following. First of all, a strong empathy towards all parties of negotiations should be established. Listening to points of view of the opponent does not presuppose any additional contribution or effort (Brounstein, Bell, Smith, & Isbell, 2010). This is a natural element of negotiations and only one reasonable action in a situation of impasse. Likewise, personal views have to be outlined in a suggestive form. Extreme politeness and tolerance are underpinned there not only with standards of ethics, but also with a pragmatic aspect. A deadlocked negotiation needs a solution, which is why involvement of maximal points of view is pivotal. Solution-focused mindset minimizes external as well as personal motives to behave in a particular way. Solution model is evidently applicable to cases of negotiations impasse, but it needs a distinct framework and methodology (Brounstein et al., 2010). This supplementary force cannot be provided in a state of a complete deadlock, which means solution-focused mindset presents an internal motivation to cooperate and achieve a common goal of negotiations.

Solution-focused mindset implements a proactive use of capacities available among all negotiators (Brounstein et al., 2010). It places solving model operation in non-linear environment, which is particularly crucial for solving model framework. As it has become apparent, solving model itself is a traditionally linear model of problem solution. However, it contains steps that require diverse approaches to decision-making, which is why non-linear generation of ideas is required (Brounstein et al., 2010). It enables negotiators to address profound objectives of impasse situation, as negotiations need not only to avoid a situation of impasse, but also to make a sufficient progress in the purpose of negotiations. Such framework may contain certain risks of conflict on a present basis of deadlocked negotiations. Common practice suggests that it is certainly true, but solution-focused mindset fosters negotiators to share their own expertise with opponents instead of criticizing and blaming them for certain gaps in a common performance. At this stage, all parties are expected to motivate each other to care about personal future, which will be established on positive outcomes of negotiations.

General Methodology

Basics. Contemporary cognitive and communicative studies suggest that communication is used not only to enact a process of decision-making, but also to solve distinct problems (Tinney, 2014). A global context of these studies witnesses the evidence that decision-making process is always prior to problem-solving, as solution is selected among multiple decisions (Tinney, 2014). Henceforth, communication is a key factor in overcoming negotiations impasse. Parties have to continue interacting in order to preserve a possibility of further negotiations, otherwise implementation of solving model will be redundant. Communication is closely related to material cause of negotiations impasse, as contemporary negotiators prefer to hide some internal data (Tinney, 2014). This process is usually mutual, which means that negotiators have to open all available data to each other. Preservation of internal information often results in inappropriate vision of the opponent’s objectives and leads to a complete misunderstanding. Thus, the basic requirement to methodology of solving model is ensured common mindset and vision of the problem.

Reaching a consensus. In fact, a consensus between parties can be reached throughout an objective method of brainstorming of all possible solutions. The most credible decisions should be compared to priorities of negotiations since some solutions may address the problem of the deadlock, but harm the primary purposes of the negotiations (Bundo & Simon, 2015). In the same vein, parties still have to validate these solutions with their internal strategy of negotiations and common sense (Bundo & Simon, 2015). In case some aspect of solutions is not satisfactory, it does not have to be selected.

Reliance on behavioral issues. As communication is affected by material causes of negotiations deadlock, behavioral issues can be influenced by non-material factors. Solutions that affect non-material perspective of the opponent have to be avoided. The exception can be made in cases when a common sense suggests that views of the opponent need to be changed for better outcomes of the entire negotiation process (O’Donahue & Fisher, 2009). Therefore, parties are recommended to rely heavily on the behavior of their opponents in order to reach a consensus (Cohen, 2014). Data is quite a stable factor that does not influence a flow of negotiations while behaviors of the opponent are reflected in their decision-making (Cohen, 2014). Provision of expertise regarding false solution suggested by the opponents is the best way to react appropriately to the behaviors of the opponent. This method is especially effective as there can be always an alternative to a suggested solution.


This paper has discussed causes of negotiations impasse and applicability of solving model. Primarily, the study has identified the most widespread causes of negotiations deadlock. The paper has developed the entire hierarchy of causes and influential factors, as negotiations involve multiple perspectives. Then, the paper has described the basic principles of solving model and investigated recent technologies implementable in the environment of solving model. In addition, the study has designed a comprehensive framework and methodology for a practical use of solving model. It is based on three basic principles: communication, reliance on behavior of the opponent, and proactive generation of solutions. The related research has proved that these dimensions play a key role in establishment of effective decision-making and problem-solving processes. The paper has managed to fulfil its purpose since certain statements regarding causes of negotiations impasse and solving model can be clearly outlined. In such a way, these findings are the following.

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It is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that a central cause of negotiations impasse is non-material perspective. It can be explained by the fact that it cannot be measured or leveraged while material issues are easier to discuss. Changes in outlooks, beliefs, and key positions of negotiators require more effort on the part of the opponent, which is why parties are usually unwilling to tolerate such alternations. As for solving model, it is entirely applicable to the evidence of negotiations deadlock. Six plain steps are quite feasible while a general framework establishes a solution-focused mindset among negotiators. The model pays a special attention to prioritization, as it is one of the main causes of deadlocks. The designed methodology and framework suggest communicative basis and reliance on opponent’s behavior for reaching a consensus through generating diverse solutions to the problem of impasse. Finally, a further focus of the research should be on enhancement of visualized prioritization of negotiation objectives, as the recent development in this area reveals distinct gaps in design.

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