Threats, Promises, and Strategies in International Negotiations




Assistant Professor

Project Summary

This summer, our project recognized the role that international negotiations have played in shaping society and working towards peace.  We sought to analyze 20th and 21st century negotiations with the goal of identifying trends in successful strategies.  In doing so, we worked to create the first dataset in the international relations realm that utilized quantitative measures to interpret qualitative case studies.

Our project utilized case studies from the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, a database selected by Professor Brutger. To narrow the scope of our research, we focused on bilateral negotiations that occurred between either two nations or a nation and a nonstate actor. For each case, we assigned numerical values to different criteria, such as favorability of outcome or ultimatum type. At least two coders analyzed each case for improved accuracy and accountability.

This project exposed us to the challenges involved with conducting social science research.  In particular, we struggled with the many aspects of subjectivity associated attempting to translate qualitative case studies into a more quantitative dataset.  Each researcher interpreted cases differently, we encountered issues with defining the various coding criteria, our analysis of each negotiation relied on the information present in the 20-30 page case study, and each study was written by a different author.  Despite these challenges, we feel our dataset provides new and relatively accurate information on the relationships between the frequency of ultimatums, types of ultimatums, and success rate of negotiations concluded throughout the past two centuries.

Further research could expand the dataset to include an analysis of multilateral negotiations. Additionally, scholars may find it interesting to examine the role of more public vs. covert negotiations, and the rationale related to both negotiating methods.  Ultimately, improved understanding of how leaders achieve mutually beneficial arrangements might help equip policymakers to negotiate more successfully the future.