Outbidding and the Decision to Negotiate

Jannie Lilja

in The Slippery Slope to Genocide

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199791743
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919222 | DOI:
Outbidding and the Decision to Negotiate

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During an ongoing identity conflict, who decides whether or not to negotiate, and who represents the nonstate side in negotiations, are rarely obvious. A logic of outbidding predicts that the most extreme faction in the nonstate camp will prevail. Outbidding, in short, means that nonconciliatory deeds and discourse are used by actors with the objective of leading and representing the identity group. The question is thus how it is possible for a nonstate party to initiate negotiations and achieve agreement, and what external diplomatic interventions could assist this process. The chapter distinguishes theoretically between different aspects of outbidding. On this basis, expected outbidding strategies are formulated and explored in relation to actual strategies used by nonstate negotiators in three identity conflicts: Sri Lanka, Indonesian Aceh, and Senegalese Casamance. The findings suggest that the extensive use of violent outbidding appears to be associated with negotiation breakdown. Moreover, the findings underscore that outbidding at its core is about the signaling of trustworthiness. Outbidding may thus far have been overly correlated with terrorist violence and political extremism at the expense of more subtle nonviolent measures. In terms of policy, the results suggest the fruitfulness of diplomatic involvement. Merely inviting groups to formal talks may trigger change on the nonstate side in the direction of a political settlement. During negotiations, third parties can help to enhance transparency, facilitate communication, and control information.

Keywords: outbidding; nonstate party; rebel; negotiation; identity conflict; trustworthiness

Chapter.  13515 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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