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Making Deals about Power Sharing
John H. Wade
Editors’ Note: Power-sharing is an intrinsic element of many negotiations, particularly those which involve some kind of continued interaction in the future. The need to provide for future decisions to be made without resort to open conflict creates a series of questions, about who will make each decision or type of decision, what the criteria will be, and what essential or ancillary conditions might apply. Clear thinking is essential, and here Wade offers a gradation in 13 steps from total power held by one party to total power held by the other. Somewhere along the 11 steps in between, perhaps, is your best solution to your particular problem in negotiating today, for what must happen next week or next year.
Future Decision-Making Power
This chapter will set out a “gradation” of legal decision-making power ranging from total to zero. Such a gradation provides a useful template and a form of “expert power” for any negotiator.
Founding fathers and mothers of clubs, churches, organizations and nations are particularly adept at negotiating balances of power in the form of “constitutions”. The founders usually negotiate with passion and persistence as they have experienced absolute power corrupting absolutely. Power sharing deals also commonly include power over budget spending; relocating children; appointing judges; hiring and firing employees; and implementing medical research, prisoner releases and military invasions (Bosquet 2008; Tuchman 2009; Savoie 2015).1
Negotiations about decision-making power raise a challenge. What is the predictable “range” of non-numerical offers, counter-offers and solutions from total to zero legal power? Generic negotiation agenda questions about power often take forms such as:
■ How will future decisions be made about the following different topics—(expenditure, medical care, armament restrictions, holidays etc.)?
■ Or, who will have the power to make future decisions about—?
■ What conditions, if any, should be followed before or after each type of decision is made?2
Gradations of Legal Decision Making Power
What follows is a gradation or scale which gradually moves future decision making power from total power for one person, to a solution of total power in the hands of the other negotiating party. A negotiator or mediator who has ready access to such a gradation or range adds normalcy, structure, visibility and predictability to the negotiation. As with a “numbers” negotiation (dollars, acres, steak knives), each party can prepare on a confidential chart its preferred starting solutions about future power, what moves to make and how quickly to make them, and where resistance will probably occur based on current “facts” and emotions. Moreover, guesses can be made about the same concepts for the other negotiating parties, who may be moving from somewhere near to the opposite end of the range.
Of course, a “loss” of decision-making power “down” the gradation scale will often be, and can be reframed as, a potential “gain.” For example, negotiating some degree of power sharing with another may:
■ Placate a disruptive dissident and tribal supporters
■ Add new expertise for future decisions
■ Test abilities of and educate potential future leaders
■ Enable blame shifting for future decisions
■ Create an obligation to return favors later
■ Distribute exhausting work loads
■ Create mutually shared “agreement” language
■ Encourage commitment to an organization
In summary, a gradation from total “legal” power via thirteen incremental losses to no “legal” power is as follows:
■ Total Power
■ Time-Limited Total Power
■ Rotation of Power
■ Duty to Report
■ Criteria as Guidance to the Exercise of Power
■ Division of Topics and Categories of Power
■ Mandatory Consultation Processes—Secret or Publicized
■ Entrenchment of Restrictions on Future Decision Making....
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