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Diffusion of Power and Diplomacy: New Meanings, Problem Solving, and Deadlocks in Multilateral Negotiations

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The classic hierarchical distribution of power featuring nation-states is now increasingly supplemented with a diffusion of power with multiple actors. A hierarchical concentration of power is predicated toward bargaining coercion and great powers can impose their solutions on the weak. Diffused power allows for joint problem solving among multiple actors through negotiations but also makes reaching agreement hard because of the relatively greater equality among bargaining units. Reaching agreement in a diffusion of power is also hard because of the new perspectives and meanings that arise through globalized interactions. These new meanings – for example, commerce viewed through the lens of intra-firm rather than inter-country trade – make it hard to fashion solutions based on past understandings centered on territoriality and nation-states.

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