Jane Mansbridge. Photo: Martha Stewart

“In this moment of crisis, we thought it would be helpful to bring forward what political science knew about negotiation and to make clear “how important negotiation is for democracy,” said Jane Mansbridge

Rarely these days does a news cycle pass without new stories of political conflict in Washington, DC. The most common diagnoses of Washington’s ailments center on the emergence of excessive partisanship and deep ideological divisions among political elites and officeholders.

President John F. Kennedy famously said “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much”, but it is clear that these rights are strong. In short, “polarization” is to blame. House and the Senate are now more ideologically polarized and rife with party conflict than they have been since 1906, according to new report.

Although conventional wisdom often asserts that polarization resulted from the changing behavior of both parties (i.e., with Democrats moving to the left and Republicans to the right), the evidence shows that the behavioral changes are far from symmetric.

Working together for the “Greater Good” requires problem-solving and persuasion.

“In this moment of crisis, we thought it would be helpful to bring forward what political science knew about negotiation and put it before the American public and members of Congress” and to make clear “how important negotiation is for democracy,” said Jane Mansbridge, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and president of the American Political Science Association, which released a comprehensive report on negotiation.

Democracy is the “system” that tries to counterbalance the power in order to find solutions to problems without letting those differences become personal. Lengthy discussions and negotiations are often needed for the different actors and stakeholders to understand one another’s interests.

Many, probably most, such negotiations fail. However, these processes of information gathering, consultation, and discussion lay the groundwork for creative problem solving that can address the concerns of all key interests at once. The result can be legislation that commands widespread support, even from players who initially saw their interests and preferences as opposed. Incentives for negotiation are also shaped by the structure of party competition. Two party systems produce fewer incentives for negotiation than proportional multiparty systems because each party seeks an electoral majority and neither has incentive to compromise to create a governing coalition.

The creation of a coalition government has thrown a spotlight on a key skill as crucial in negotiation as it is in politics-negotiation. The recent gridlock in Congress may well be a metaphor for the erosion of cooperation in contemporary political life.

Political scientists recently looked at the history and causes of disagreement in American politics. In a comprehensive report published in December 2013 by the American Political Science Association, a task force of scholars from across the field considered the “institutional disincentives for cooperation and rewards for conflict”

Before considering how rules of engagement may aid in negotiation, all political systems require negotiation activities to improve policemaking. Thus, the basic interaction is one involving bargaining between members with resources. There is a balance of power, not necessarily one in which all members equally benefit but one in which all members see themselves as in positive -sum game.

However the development of policy negotiation never begins with a blank slate whether we are talking about State, national characters or what people in public policy implementers, (the target populations), and their already hold and use of complex of “notions” that effect what is treated as more or less relevant, important, and desirable from institutions, information to politics success criteria. How well we explain the occurrence and consequences of one or another policy problems depends significantly on how well we understand the members or membership groups, and diverse implications, instituations or just acceptance of cultrual notions.

There often may be a very substantial difference parliamentary system. One can only fully understand the characteristics of a policy community if we compare it with different policy community including policy network, government approach and legislators. There are many examples of how to describe government policy making. The roots of the idea of a policy network lie, in part, in American pluralism and the literature on subgovernments. When describing government policy making, the term policy network refers to interest intermediation, interorganizational analysis, and governance.

The central question for classical pluralism is how power and influence is distributed in a political process.

Subgovernments as “clusters of individuals that effectively make most of the routine decisions in a given substantive area of policy”. They are composed of members of the House and or Senate, members of Congressional staffs, and organizations interested in the policy.

The European literature on networks focuses less on subgovernments and more on interorganizational analysis, the structural relationships between political institutions as the crucial element in a policy network rather than the interpersonal relations between individuals in those institutions.

At its simplest, interorganizational analysis suggests that a focal organization attempts to manage its dependencies by employing-one or more strategies other organizations in the network are similarly engaged.

A network is complex and dynamic: there are multiple, over-lapping relationships, each one of which is to a greater or lesser degree dependent on the state of others. The desirability question may also be connected to informal cultural norms and values in political-administrative systems.The basic notion that issues in dispute and war itself have differential effects on groups has long been prominent in the literature on conflict.

Classical pluralism view that politics and decision making are located mostly in the “framework of government”, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence. The inter-organizational networks enable us to describe and analyze interactions among all significant policy actors, from legislative parties and government ministries to business associations, professional societies, labor unions, and public interest groups. A second approach to explaining politics in comparative perspective is to consider the interests that actors are pursuing through political action. For many years ago Harold Lasswell (1936) argued that politics is about “Who Gets What” and that central concern with the capacity of politics to distribute and redistribute benefits remains.

The roots of policy network analysis lie, finally, in the analysis of the sharing of power between public and private actors, most commonly between business, financial industry and the government in economic policy making. Traditionally,Wall Street plays both sides of the fence on its political donations. and Congress is bombarded with demands from every “nook and cranny” of the business community. it is most unclear at this point whether the lawmakers could do anything — or much of anything — to cut down on “special interest money” in American politics. This was a constitutional decision, laying down (essentially for the first time), a sweeping free-speech right in politics for “special interest” bodies of all types with the concept of “speech” clearly embracing spending money to influence election outcomes.

The Task Force Report, Negotiating Agreement in Politics, authored by Jane Mansbridge of the Harvard Kennedy School and Cathie Jo Martin of Boston University, uncovers three mysteries about political deal-making within Congress today: the disconnect between the past and present, the breakdown between mass desires and elite decisions, and the invidious comparisons between the United States and other advanced democracies. While the structural circumstances may pose challenges for successful negotiation, “…50 years of research provides lessons for even the grimmest situations,” says Jane Mansbridge. According to Cathie Jo Martin, “…most importantly we investigate the success stories…, and offer a roadmap for how diverse interests might overcome their narrow disagreements and negotiate win-win solutions.”

The breakdown of political negotiation within Congress today is puzzling in several important respects. The United States used to be viewed as a land of broad consensus and pragmatic politics, in which sharp ideological differences were largely absent from our classless society; yet today politics is dominated by intense party polarization and limited agreement among representatives on policy problems and solutions. Americans pride themselves on their community spirit, civic engagement and dynamic society, yet handicapped by national political institutions, which often – but not always – stifle the popular desire for political reforms. In part, the separation of powers helps to explain why Congress has a difficult time taking action, but many countries have severe institutional hurdles to easy majoritarian rule and still produce political deals.

According to the Report of American Political Science Association on Negotiating Agreement in Politics (2013). A presidential system, such as that in the United States, that separately elects two legislative houses and a president makes simpleHomepageCarousel_Advocacy_p2 majoritarian rule more difficult to achieve, and many scholars agree that the separation of powers between Congress and the presidency creates greater hurdles than a parliamentary system to achieving political deals.

Their data not only describe the power structure of chosen policy making area but also explain the different policy outcomes, and offers practical advice for how diverse interests might overcome their narrow disagreements to negotiate win-win solutions.

“The institutional warfare found in a presidential system may result in gridlock, dual government policies, and unilateral action”, says the report. The independent election of both houses of the legislature and the executive decreases the chance that the same political party will control all branches; distributing responsibilities for policy making between separately elected branches gives politicians in the two branches the means to wage institutional warfare on one another.

In short, except in extraordinary circumstances in which the same political party has control of the presidency, the Senate, and the House, the separation of powers in the US system very nearly requires negotiation.

Pliticians must engage in substantial negotiation simply to win political power, and ministries are often controlled by separate parties. Opposing parties may call for a vote of no confidence and bring down the government at any time. Even advanced postindustrial democracies face broadly similar challenges yet demonstrate very different responses to exogenous threats. In some countries, the rules of engagement embodied in governmental institutions, as well as in the more transitory procedural arrangements in specific policy areas, help to overcome negotiation myopia and facilitate deliberative negotiation.

In these countries, the strategic and psychological impacts of the governing institutions and their embedded rules of collective engagement may facilitate the development of social and economic reforms that benefit a broad cross section of interests. The same procedural arrangements facilitating domestic political agreements in European countries also contribute to successful deals in international negotiations, when a zone of potential agreement exists. Obviously, diplomats have a trained ability to think about the big picture of a given negotiation.

For these reasons, the choice of a specific set of rules of collective political engagement has facilitated deliberative negotiation within the consensus-model countries and many policy successes, often with restrained political conflict. The crucial role for nonpartisan, technical expertise is illustrated by the use of royal commissions in Sweden, such as the expert task force on climate change in the 1970s, which set the stage for early clean-air legislation.

In sharp contrast, the United States relies far less on the rules of engagement that foster deliberative negotiation. Americans rely less frequently on panels of technical experts, says the report. Repeated interactions in private meetings among opposing parties or stakeholders have never been a feature of the American political economy because collective bargaining is both limited and largely focused on economic rather than political issues.

In any negotiation, participants may rationally reject a resolution that benefits them in the short run if they believe that forgoing immediate gains will set them up for an even bigger future victory.

The dynamics within the US policy and these different structures have been interpreted as a product of complex interactions between interests, ideas, and institutional histories. In many regimes formal legal authority is shared between national and supranational governmental organizations, were states are key players.

In any given area policy analysis depends upon a host of information and technical knowledge. This is partially a difference in theories of what kind of knowledge is available in society. About what to do this information is “a political or social or public choice” (to use some of the terms that are commonly used). If the differences that exist in society are represented in the political system the system can make the people with those differences work together.

Despite the institutional odds against it, political negotiation sometimes works in the United States, and this report (Task Force on Negotiating Agreement in Politics) shows how these episodes of success may occur.

These unexpected successes in political negotiation often happen when participants adopt the rules of collective political engagement that routinely enable higher levels of cooperation.

Negotiating Agreement in Politics

Negotiating Agreement in Politics – Problem-solving approach of integrative
negotiation requires “trust and a supportive climate”

A successful negotiation may either simply settle on some point in the zone of possible agreement among the parties or, more expansively, produce an agreement that captures all of the “joint gains” that can be discovered or created in the situation.

Most negotiation theorists currently refer only to “integrative” negotiations and solutions. There is distinction between “fully” and “partially” integrative because fully integrative solutions are rare, in both commercial and legislative negotiations.

Create frequent and close interaction between negotiating parties to foster trust and long-range commitment.

For example, procedural arrangements that incorporate a formal role for nonpartisan, technical expertise in policy deliberations in advance of specific legislative proposals may facilitate a collective “meeting of the minds.” Negotiation characterized by mutual justification, respect, and the search for fair terms of interaction and outcomes.

  • This kind of negotiation may entail pure deliberation, in which the parties develop a collective understanding of the problems confronting them and seek to articulate a common good.
  • It may also include fully integrative negotiation, in which the parties find a creative way to approach the problem that provides both with what they actually want and neither party loses.
  • It is not a zero-sum game where one wins and the other loses.

As noted in the Report under certain conditions, negotiation myopia may be overcome with institutional rules of collective engagement that enable deliberative negotiation, by allowing participants to rise above their internecine squabbles and to focus on value-creating accords. In this complex process, the simple points we take from the negotiation literature are that mutual gains may be discovered or created through negotiations; that these gains often build on taking the perspective of the others; A Value Creating -and that those perspectives often can be obtained in the course of informal, friendly, repeated, and relatively open relationships.

At the outset of a mutual gains negotiation, it is in the interest of all parties to take whatever steps they can to create value, that is, to “increase the size of the pie” before determining who gets what. The more value they can create, the greater the chances that all sides will exceed the (BATNA) best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

The mutual gains approach, on the other hand calls on negotiators to

  1. clarify and rank order their interests
  2. imagine what the interests of their negotiating partners are (taking the perspective of the others; A Value Creating)
  3. analyze their own BATNA and think about ways of improving it before the negotiations begin
  4. analyze their partner´s BATNA and think about ways of raising doubts about it if it seems particularly good
  5. generate possible options or packages of options for mutual gain
  6. imagine the strongest arguments and objective observer might make on behalf of the package that would be beneficial to the negotiator and
  7. ensure that they have a clear mandate regarding the responsibilities and autonomy accorded to them by their own constituents or organization. This requires a substantial investment of time and energy.

The authors in this report argue that adopting many of these rules of engagement may facilitate deliberative negotiation, in which participants search for fair compromises and often recognize the positivesum possibilities that are otherwise frequently overwhelmed by zero-sum conflicts.

New Report 23/06/2014

If one thinks about polarization in terms of positions on specific policy issues, one would expect to see a decline in the center and a lumping up of people on the extremes. a report describing two decades of change in American public opinion shows that ideological consistency in the American electorate clearly has increased. It does not show that extremity — polarization — has.

What has happened in the United States is not polarization, but sorting. Americans have not become more politically polarized: guest post by Stanford political scientist Morris Fiorina.


Vice President Biden showered praise on the nation’s governors here Friday 11 july 2014 as he lamented the breakdown of bipartisanship in Washington, saying …state leaders can help to end an era of poisonous politics that is hurting the country.

The vast majority of you respect one another,” the vice president told attendees of the National Governors Association convention “there have always been significant ideological differences between The vast majority of you respect one another,” the vice president told attendees of the National Governors Association convention Friday. (Photo Mark Humphrey AP)Republicans and Democrats and battles over big issues. But governors have demonstrated their ability to work with one another to try to find solutions to problems that confront their states without letting those differences become personal”.

Biden said that most Americans want their elected representatives to work together but the conduct of politics has divided the population. “I think you’ve got to lead us out of this mess we’re in,” he said.

Biden made his comments about the current state of politics at the beginning of a speech about infrastructure and workforce training.