David Allen Larson
September 1, 2012
Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2012
What are a negotiator’s ethical and moral obligations during a negotiation? Should a negotiator be dedicated to achieving the greatest value possible for his or her client even though that goal may appear to require some degree of deception? Does it make a difference whether a culture has a strong religious foundation and identity?
Different ethnicities and cultures obviously do not always agree as to what is right or wrong, true or false, or the degree to which one’s behavior must conform to those norms. This article will identify differing cultural perspectives towards negotiation in the course of a general discussion about negotiation but, in particular, the article will focus on how truthfulness and lying during negotiations is perceived in Chinese and Jewish culture. The following comparison between a culture that continues to develop and evolve under Communist rule and a culture that embraces long established religious values admittedly does not exhaust this complex and fascinating topic. The authors hope that readers not only find the comparison interesting and revealing, but also are inspired to further explore this cultural comparison as well as others. There always is a danger when one attempts sweeping generalizations and some of the following descriptions may be controversial. Consequently, additional dialogue is strongly encouraged. The article concludes with a “Suggestions for Instructors” section that explores additional cultural differences that can have a significant impact on both negotiations and negotiation teaching.