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Negotiation, Meet New Governance: Interests, Skills, and Selves

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In this article, I critically examine two bodies of scholarship: negotiation literature and new governance literature. To that end, I consider The Negotiator's Fieldbook (2006), an ambitious survey of negotiation theory and practice edited by Andrea Kupfer Schneider and Christopher Honeyman, and key works by U.S. new governance architects, Michael Dorf, Charles Sabel, and William Simon. This comparison may surprise readers since negotiation literature largely focuses on interpersonal dynamics, and new governance literature aims at institutional change. I argue that these two literatures share similar assumptions about subjectivity that drive their sense of political hopefulness. In short, both envision a flexible problem-solving subject—shaped in negotiation by a discourse of skills and in new governance by a discourse of institutional design. Based on this descriptive claim, I illustrate how reading these literatures together suggests alternative perspectives from which to consider questions of power, inequality, and distribution relevant to both fields.

When no firm and lasting ties any longer unite men, it is impossible to obtain the cooperation of any great number of them unless you can persuade every man whose help is required that he serves his private interests by voluntarily uniting his efforts to those of all the others.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1969, 517)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Publication date: June 1, 2008


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