An analysis of Sun Tzu's Art of War with the context of negotiations : approaches and strategies

Hughes, Justin H. (2005-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: If you want peace make ready for war! This was what Sun Tzu believed when conveying his philosophies in his book the Art of War. What is remarkable about the Art of War is that it was written about 2300 years ago and presented a new way of thinking about battle. Sun Tzu did not promote engaging in battle but rather overcoming the enemy without having to do battle. "100 victories in 100 battles is not the most skilful. Subduing without battle is the most skilful" (Denma Translation: 2003: 25 - 26). The Sun Tzu begins with the understanding that conflict is an integral part of human life. It is within us and all around us. Sometimes we can skilfully sidestep it, but at other times we must confront it directly. Many of us have seen the destructive power of aggression, whether on a personal level or in the disasters of armed conflict. We know as well the limitations of most political and personal responses to that aggression. How can we work with it in a more profound and effective way? (Denma Translation: 2003: 2). As in modem day society conflict is ever present and the manner in which we deal with such conflict either resolves the conflict or exacerbates it. One way of dealing with conflict is through negotiations. The negotiation process is an orderly process whereby parties can engage each other in dialogue in order to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. What is evident is that to be successful in a negotiation the necessary planning and preparation needs to be done. Although it is not possible to prepare and plan for all eventualities within the negotiation process most scenarios can be predicted and therefore if the required preparation is done the possibility of reaching one's objective is increased. When preparing for negotiations it is imperative that all environments that can impact on the negotiation are considered. Furthermore the organisational and personal power of the negotiator and the other party needs to be determined. Within the negotiation process the negotiator will display certain behaviours depending what he/she wishes to achieve. Should the negotiator wish to drive the negotiation then behaviours such as providing information or making proposals will be used. On the other hand, if the negotiator wishes to draw the other party into the negotiation then the behaviour of seeking information and summarising would be used. The outcome of a negotiation could be one of four, namely lose -lose, win -lose, win - win or mutual gains. There are different approaches to negotiation, namely soft, hard and principled. It is suggested that the most appropriate approach is the principled approach, although the soft and hard approach could be used under certain circumstances. A negotiation is a systematic process and involves the aspect of planning. Without planning negotiations are sure to fail and the objective set not reached. The types of planning that need to be done are strategic, tactical and administrative. Instead of opposing each other the planning aspects of negotiation complement each other. Sun Tzu proposes ways to settle a conflict without engaging in battle. Although the learned strategist does not promote negotiation directly when reading the 'Art of War' it becomes evident that Sun Tzu preferred to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. It was only when no other option was available that he suggests battle. In war most of the planning and preparation involves strategies, which is similar in the negotiation process. It is important that a negotiator knows when to move, when to stand fast and when to engage the other party. This is also true for any military engagement. Sun Tzu sets out philosophies, which can be used to strategise for negotiation. Although a bit of poetic licence exists when interpreting Sun Tzu's philosophy for the negotiation arena, what the learned author contributes to the field of negotiation is to make the negotiator aware of the options available. The Art of War provides insight into creative thinking where Sun Tzu spells out that it is better to conquer the enemy without engaging in battle. Furthermore the less of the enemy's possessions destroyed the more astute the leader and lastly, that one must not engage in battle because of the wrath of the leaders. In other words it should not be retaliation because the leader's ego is bruised. Sun Tzu provides wisdom, which can be utilised in the negotiation process. The interpretation of Sun Tzu's strategies provides a framework for negotiators to strategise when entering into negotiations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: As jy Vrede wil hê, maak reg vir 'n oorlog! Dit is wat Sun Tzu geglo het toe hy sy filosofie in die boek Art of War, weergegee het. "100 victories in 100 battles is not the most skilful. Subduing without battle is the most skilful" (Denma vertaling: 2003: 25-26). Sun Tzu gaan van die veronderstelling uit dat konflik 'n integrale deel van die menslike bestaan is. Dit is binne in ons en orals om ons. Somtyds kan ons dit behendig systap maar ander kere moet ons dit direk hanteer. Baie van ons het al die destruktiewe krag van agressie gesien, hetsy op persoonlike vlak of in rampspoedige gewapende konflikte. Ons ken ook die beperkings van die meeste politieke of persoonlik reaksies op die tipe aggressie. Hoe kan ons dit op 'n meer diepgaande en effektiewe manier hanteer? (Denma vertaling: 2003: 25-26) Soos ook in die moderne samelewing is konflik alom teenwoordig en die wyse hoe dit hanteer word kan dit of oplos, of vererger. Een metode om konflik te hanteer is deur onderhandeling. Die proses van onderhandeling is 'n ordelike proses waardeur partye met mekaar in gesprek tree ten einde tot 'n wedersyds aanvaarbare ooreenkoms te bereik. Dit blyk dat ten einde suksesvol te wees in onderhandelings die nodige beplanning en voorbereiding gedoen moet word. Alhoewel dit is nie moontlik is om te beplan vir alle gebeurlikhede tydens die onderhandelinge nie, kan die meeste scenario's egter voorspel word. Indien die nodige voorbereiding dus gedoen word kan dit jou kanse om jou eie doelwitte te bereik, verhoog. Wanneer voorberei word vir onderhandelings is dit noodsaaklik dat alle omgewings invloede wat 'n impak kan hê daarop oorweeg word. Verder moet die organisatoriese en persoonlike mag van die onderhandelaar en die ander party bepaal word.Tydens die onderhandelings proses sal die onderhandelaar sekere gedrag toon afhangend van wat hy/sy uit die onderhandelings wil verkry. Indien die onderhandelaar hoop om die onderhandelings te lei, sal gedrag soos om inligting te verskaf en om voorstelle maak, gebruik word. Indien die onderhandelaar andersyds eerder die ander partye wil betrokke kry by die onderhandelings, sal gedrag soos die soeke na inligting en om opsommings te maak, getoon word. Die uitkoms van onderhandelings kan een van vier moontlikhede wees, naamlik: verloor-verloor, wenverloor, wen-wen of beide partye baat. Daar is verskillende benaderings tot onderhandeling naamlik die sagte, die harde en die beginselvaste benadering. Dit word aan die hand gedoen dat die mees toepaslike benadering die beginselvaste benadering is maar dat die sagte of aggressiewe (harde) benadering ook onder sekere omstandighede gebruik kan word.Onderhandelinge is 'n sistematiese proses en behels beplanning. Sonder beplanning is onderhandelings gedoem tot mislukking en is die doelwitte nie haalbaar nie. Die tipe beplanning wat gedoen moet word is strategies, takties en administratief. Die verskillende tipes beplanning komplementeer mekaar eerder as om mekaar te opponeer. Sun Tzu voorsien metodes hoe om konflik te besleg sonder om in oorlog betrokke te raak. Hoewel die geleerde strateeg nie onderhandelings direk promoveer nie blyk dit by die lees van The Art of War dat Sun Tzu verkies on konflik op 'n vreedsame wyse op te los. Dit was slegs wanneer geen ander opsie beskikbaar was nie dat hy oorlog voorstel. Tydens oorlog word beplanning en voorbereiding gewy aan strategie wat baie ooreenkom met die van die onderhandelingsproses. Dit is belangrik dat die onderhandelaar weet wanneer om te beweeg, wanneer om vas te staan en wanneer om die ander party te betrek.Hierdie is ook belangrik vir enige militêre aanval. Sun Tzu se filisofie kan dus ook gebruik word vir strategie beplanning vir onderhandeling. Hoewel 'n mate van poëtiese vaardigheid benodig word vir die intepretering van Sun Tzu se filosofie in die onderhandelings arena word die geleerde outeur se bydrae op die onderhandelings gebied gemaak daardeur dat die onderhandelaar bewus gemaak word van sy beskikbare opsies. The Art of War gee insig in kreatiewe denke waar Sun Tzu dit uitspel dat dit beter is om die vyand te oorwin sonder om in 'n geveg betrokke te raak. Verder word aangedui dat hoe minder van die vyand se besittings vernietig word hoe slimmer die leier en dat daar nie in 'n geveg betrokke geraak moet word vanweë die woede van die leiers nie. Met ander woorde daar moet nie vergelding wees as gevolg van die gekrenkte ego van die leier nie. Sun Tzu verskaf dus wysheid wat gebruik kan word in die onderhandelings proses. Die interpretasie van Sun Tzu se strategieë voorsien 'n raamwerk aan onderhandelaars vir stategiese beplanning wanneer betrokke geraak word in onderhandelings.

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