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Why People Don't Ask: Understanding Initiation Behavior in International Negotiations



Negotiation is an interactive process that is important to all aspects of organizational success, a process that begins with communicating one's wants or needs. For many individuals, engaging others and asking for what one wants (i.e., initiating a negotiation) is a challenging task, made more difficult in an international context. Yet due to the integration of world markets, this is exactly the type of environment that many organizational representatives are facing with increasing regularity. This article offers an overview of the personal characteristics and situational factors that influence an individual initiating a negotiation (engaging a counterpart, making a request, and optimizing that request), with specific attention to seven cultural factors that must be understood to be most effective in international settings. The ways in which these cultural factors are likely to affect one's decision to engage a counterpart and style of delivery are illustrated for three countries: the United States, China, and Brazil. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.