Leverage of Time in Negotiations

This concept refers to the situation, when both parties perceive that the passage of time in negotiations is an instrument working in one’s favor and against one’s opponent.

Definition

The Concept Leverage of time in Negotiations refers to the situation, when both parties perceive that the passage of time is an instrument working in one’s favor and against one’s opponent (or vice versa). In the process of negotiations, time leverage occurs when the parties have asymmetric time constraints during negotiations, and/or perceive ongoing trends as strengthening one party’s relative position.

Background

For analytical purposes, the Reut Institute distinguishes between endogenous and exogenous sources of time leverage. Endogenous time leverage refers to the dynamics that take place during negotiations. Exogenous time leverage refers to long term trends that exist regardless of negotiations though they impact negotiating actors - they are perceived to be inevitable and working in the interest of one actor.

Endogenous Time Leverage – The party with more time constraints has less leverage during negotiations. Parties in negotiation who have higher time constraints face higher costs in the negotiation process. When one party has high time pressure, it becomes hyper-vigilant and often will have less rational decision making. Time pressure affects both process and outcomes of negotiation.1 The party who has higher time pressure often has the following process in decision making:

  1. Quicker concessions and lower demands;
  2. Fostering cooperative behavior (limited by opponent’s behavior);
  3. Encouraging agreements rather than impasses;
  4. Less exploration (may affect quality of outcome).

The party faced with higher time pressure has different outcomes to its decision-making process. It will:

  1. Make less ambitious target agreements;
  2. Make first offer;
  3. Encourage concessions to respect deadline.

Application

Within the framework of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, there is a Mismatch of Tenures, i.e. the Israeli negotiation team faces a time constraint stemming from its democratic political cycle of shorter and unstable terms. On the other hand, the top Palestinian leadership enjoys much longer tenures and therefore has endogenous leverage of time.

Exogenous Time Leverage – Leverage of time that exists regardless of negotiations. This includes long-term trends which, over time, improve one party’s negotiating position vis-à-vis its counterpart.

For example, within the Israeli-Palestinian system, demographic trends weaken the Israeli negotiating position granting an exogenous time lever for the Palestinians. By 2020 there will be more Arabs than Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. For the diagram2 that illustrates the current demographic trends click here.


1 Stuhlmacher, Alice, “The Impact of Time Pressure and Information on Negotiation Process and Decisions”, Group Decision and Negotiation, 9: 471-491, 2000.

2 Data Source: World Development Indicators 2004 and CIA fact Book 2004.

More Sources

Resources

  1. Stuhlmacher, Alice, “The Impact of Time Pressure and Information on Negotiation Process and Decisions”, Group Decision and Negotiation, 9: 471-491, 2000
  2. Watkins, Michael, “Building Momentum in Negotiations: Time-Related Costs and Action-Forcing Events”, Negotiation Journal, July 1998.
  3. CIA Factbook 2004.