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Symmetry and Asymmetry in International Negotiations

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The properties of symmetry and asymmetry among negotiating partners can influence the process and outcomes of a negotiation in four major ways. First, they describe the relative potential strengths and power of the negotiating parties and, as such, not only indicate differences and similarities that exist between the negotiating partners, but also determine the process. Second, even asymmetric parties seek to find equality through the process of negotiation. A third form of symmetry and asymmetry is manifest when a third party is engaged to mediate the negotiation process. A third manifestation concerns the symmetry of instruments to be used in negotiations. Finally, the outcome of the negotiation process expresses utility perceptions by both parties. Thus the idea of symmetry/asymmetry and the perception, there of, can be found in all stages of the negotiation process.

Affiliations: 1: University of Heidelberg, Institut für Politikwissenschaft, 6 Marstallstrasse, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany; 2: Department of Political Science, University of Geneva, 102 Boulevard Carl Vogt, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland


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