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Managing domestic differences in international negotiations: the strategic use of internal side-payments


  • Mayer, Frederick W.


When nations negotiate, often the toughest bargaining is not between nations but within them. The reason is simple: proposed international agreements, no matter how much in the “national interest,” inevitably have differential effects on factional concerns, threatening to make winners of some and losers of others. Potential losers often have the power to prevent agreements not to their liking, thereby limiting what is possible in international negotiations. This article uses a negotiation analytic framework to analyze the consequences of such limits. It argues that limits need not be a liability for a divided country—under some circumstances they may provide a bargaining advantage—and demonstrates circumstances under which intracountry differences are desirable and undesirable from a national perspective. More specifically, the article shows that the effect of domestic differences on international negotiations depends on the configuration of domestic interests, on the nature of domestic political processes, and on characteristics of the international bargain. It then explores a particular dimension of the domestic process: the ability to link issues which allow factions to make internal side-payments. It demonstrates that internal issue linkage can have profound effects on the external bargain and explores the strategic implications of side-payments for those who would manage domestic differences in international negotiations.

Suggested Citation

  • Mayer, Frederick W., 1992. "Managing domestic differences in international negotiations: the strategic use of internal side-payments," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(04), pages 793-818, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:46:y:1992:i:04:p:793-818_03

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    1. repec:ris:ecoint:0801 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dane Rowlands, 1997. "International Aspects of the Division of Debt Under Secession: The Case of Quebec and Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 23(1), pages 40-54, March.
    3. Helen V. Milner & B. Peter Rosendorff, 1996. "Trade Negotiations, Information And Domestic Politics: The Role Of Domestic Groups," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 145-189, July.
    4. Alan Richards & Nirvikar Singh, 2004. "No Easy Exit: Property Rights, Markets, and Negotiations over Water," Development and Comp Systems 0412011, EconWPA.
    5. Håkon Sælen, 2016. "Side-payments: an effective instrument for building climate clubs?," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 909-932, December.
    6. Vivoda Vlado, 2011. "Bargaining Model for the International Oil Industry," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(4), pages 1-36, December.

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