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Inaction Inertia in International Negotiations: A Dynamic Approach

Fri, September 1, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hotel Nikko, Mendocino II


In international disputes missed settlement opportunities are frequently lamented, but their impact on the dynamics of on-going negotiations is largely overlooked. In the psychological literature, however, the consequences of missing an advantageous action opportunity have been studied extensively in the context of the Inaction Inertia phenomenon. According to this literature, forgoing attractive action opportunities renders decision makers susceptible to regret and increases the likelihood that subsequent opportunities will be missed as well. Initial evidence for inaction inertia in the context of international disputes was obtained using case studies and scenario methodology (Terris & Tykocinski 2016). This methodology however failed to capture the dynamic nature of actual international negotiations. Our goal in the current research was to extend the applicability of the inaction inertia concept by adopting a multi-step dynamic negotiation setting. Towards this goal we developed a computerized negotiation board which allows participants to present and assess settlement offers concerning a territorial dispute between two fictitious states. The article introduces the interactive negotiation board and discusses our findings that suggest that the concept of inaction inertia can enrich our understanding of failures and deadlocks in international negotiations.