The research project in which I took part focused on international negotiations. Our goal was to understand when and why leaders make threats and promises, as well as the consequences of those actions. The project had an ambitious agenda that included collecting and coding data on a broad range of facets of international negotiations. To narrow the universe of potential negotiations, Professor Brutger selected case studies compiled by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy for detailed coding and abbreviated summaries. We covered negotiations on issue areas as diverse as international labor rights, arms control treaties, and the regulation of beer exports. In total, we coded 61 unique case studies and examined an additional 18 case studies that were deemed irrelevant because they did not meet the criteria of being an international negotiation.
The project focused on identifying and numerically coding the specific types of promises, threats, and ultimatums that were used in international negotiations, whether the parties took action to follow through, and the eventual outcomes of the negotiations. We also attempted to gather data about the public opinion of the negotiations and the leaders’ strategies, but such data was not consistently available across countries. As a result, we determined to omit analysis of public opinion from the priorities of the project.
I focused on negotiations involving trade and economic agreements, as economic policy has been a primary area of interest to me as a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major. By participating in Professor Brutger’s research project this summer, I was able to employ the theories I have studied in order to engage more directly with the case studies and understand more fully the complexity of the issues our nations’ leaders face in this increasingly globalized economy. Although this is an ongoing project that will continue to analyze and look for trends in the negotiation process, I found how nations prioritize different aspects of their identities interesting. While some sought to liberalize trade and grow their economies at all costs, others emphasized maintaining their sovereignty and national identities. Further still, some negotiations publicly prioritized global humanitarian efforts but fell short of expectations when economic consequences proved too great. In short, although it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions, it seems that stances during negotiations generally, albeit not universally, follow the paths of domestic public opinion. I look forward to continuing my studies of international policies and how leaders make decisions during negotiations.