In the given case, the executive director of San Diego Zoo wanted to bring two giant pandas to his zoo; this decision was motivated by the previous loan of two giant pandas that the zoo had loaned for six months in 1987. The number of visitors and the revenues of the zoo increased significantly when pandas were loaned. Douglas Meyers decided to bring the pandas to the zoo for a longer period.
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First, Meyers needs a negotiation framework. He needs to answer several questions to understand how this negotiation will be conducted. What is the problem? The problem is to bring two giant pandas from China (the only place of their habitat on the planet); pandas are an endangered species, which complicates the case. What is happening right now? Right now, Meyers can point out the previous loan of pandas that ended quite successfully. The zoo’s influence on the animal conversation should not be forgotten as well. These facts can be seen as the strengths of Meyer’s position that is, nevertheless, in a relative weakness. However, pandas’ exhibition can influence the public support of these endangered animals, which can be seen as an advantage by the counterpart. Moreover, as the zoo already promoted pandas through various items and ads during their previous stay, it may be reasonable to assume that a new advertisement campaign will be needed to attract more visitors. Thus, Meyer needs to emphasize the importance of these animals and their conservation, and stress that his zoo and the counterparty follow the same aims. It is not the possible revenues of the zoo that need to be mentioned, but rather the revenues that the counterparty will have, as well as the influence of pandas on the promotion of support for these animals both in the USA and in China.
The next step is to determine what the sources of the bargaining power are. Several sources can be identified: the China Wildlife Conservation Association, other zoos in the USA and outside of it, NGO conservation groups, and government agencies. The official USA-China relationships also need to be considered; in the 1980s, the relationships between the two states improved, which could be seen as an advantage for the weaker party. The best alternative to an agreement would be to contact another supplier of pandas (a Chinese zoo) and offer a transaction under the same conditions. For the counterparty, the BATNA would be the same – contact another receiver (several zoos that are interested in the deal). The point of departure is the initial offer or deal, i.e. the long-term transaction of the animals.
The talking points could be the following: stress the importance of pandas’ conservation, underline the current relationships between the states and indicate how this deal would influence them, provide additional facts that support the zoo’s authority, point out to the importance of promoting the counterpart in the USA (additional deals, new stakeholders, new supporters, etc.).
At the same time, Meyers needs to pay attention to other stakeholders that can influence the negotiation. Here, cultural differences and factors are also important. As China is a country where collectivism is valued, and blunt communication may be considered as confrontation or humiliation, soft negotiation style needs to be considered. Hard negotiation style, especially in a weak position, can lead to an adverse outcome of the negotiations. The importance of cultural differences is often omitted in the negotiation plan.
The hierarchical social structure in China needs to be considered as well. The executive director and his team should avoid sensitive topics and self-promotion, as they can be seen as signs of disrespect. One should also consider that personal and business success is not extensively discussed or displayed in China.