Cross-National Negotiation: The Role Of Language Format Choice

Project Overview: Cross-national negotiation typically involves parties who speak different languages. This is true for multinational corporations such as Apple and international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Parliament, and the World Trade Organization. Such negotiation circumstances frequently require the parties to communicate either directly in a lingua franca, typically English, or indirectly in one’s native tongue through interpreters. In this research project we investigate how different communication formats impact the process and outcome of cross-national negotiation. In order to test this, we will simulate a negotiation process by recruiting negotiation dyads in the Netherlands made up of native speakers of Dutch and native speakers of German, both of whom speak English as a foreign language. The negotiation will either take place in English as lingua franca or in their native language through interpreters. We will evaluate how the communication format affects the negotiation process, such as the extent to which negotiators are cooperative, find integrative solutions and so on, as well as its impact on the final negotiation outcomes. This research will broaden our theoretical understanding of how using language influences thought and action in a real-world context of cross-national negotiation. It also will have important implications for individuals and organizations that routinely choose what communication format to use when they negotiate.

Bio: Boaz Keysar is the William Benton Professor in Psychology and the College and the Chair of the Cognition program. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989 and was a visiting scholar at Stanford University before joining the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1991.

Keysar’s researches the relationship between decision-making and communication. He publishes in major journals such as Psychological Review, Psychological Science, Cognition, and Cognitive Psychology. His research has also received substantial interest in media outlets such as Scientific American, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Economist, Der Spiegel, China Daily, Smart Money – Russia, MSNBC, NPR, and Freakonomics. 

Professor Keysar is a charter member of the Association for Psychological Science, as well as a member of several professional associations such as the Psychonomic Society and the Society for Judgment and Decision Making. He also serves on editorial boards and grant reviews.

Keysar's honors include a Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship. He received grants from the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation. He was awarded the President's Service award by President Clinton for his non-profit work.