Negotiating the relationship – Analysis and Best Practices


In negotiating contracts  we tend to forget the relationship aspect. A mistake often made by contract parties is to focus uniquely on substance and ignore process when contracting.  It turns out that most of the problems arise when parties’ cooperation process stagnates. Kamminga studied how a failure to agree on the collaboration process, can undermine achieving the goals of the contractual agreement, and increase the chance of conflict. In this recent study he also outlines the lessons learned about improving the chance of project success. This becomes essential when projects involve parties from various backgrounds such as in have a cross-border nature situations.

In his paper Kamminga describes how to go about doing this using complex infrastructure projects as example. His work is built on empirical research of hundreds of infrastructure projects. He suggests which critical success factors negotiators may want to include in the contract negotiations of long-term contractual relationships in infrastructure works (and beyond).

Questions addressed in this article:

  • Why infrastructure projects are so sensitive to conflict?
  • What are the main sources of conflict?
  • What negotiators should be focusing on during the contracting process to minimize the chance of conflict and optimize the success of the parties’ efforts?
  • What are the main dangers in the traditional approach in contract negotiations?
  • How failure to discuss the collaboration process can lead to failed projects?
  • Why differences in culture between contract partners makes clear process agreements even more important?
  • How to go about in making agreement on process?

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