Negotiation Strategies of the Company "Rio Tinto Alcan"


This report will include negotiation strategies of the company Rio Tinto Alcan by developing a structure for managing negotiations, gathering information materials, developing strategies, and establishing negotiation positions.There is no set timeline for this work, because the process is organic. If one part of the process is delayed, such as the social impact assessment, the whole timeline may need to be adjusted. The team will need to adapt time frames constantly.

Establish a Structure for Negotiations

This section covers various structures for organizing negotiating teams, an important but often neglected topic.

Because information gathering must start immediately, an existing individual or body will need to take responsibility for kicking off the process. This may be a chief, chief and council, a land and environment department, or the CEO of a community council or regional Adivasis. In this case Bhagawan Majhi serves as sarpanch (chief) of Kucheipadar village. Allocation of this responsibility should result from conscious decisions about what will work best for managing a negotiation.

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Often, people think the way they organize themselves for other business is going to work for negotiations. A well-structured team with a strong plan for managing information will be able to share information with the community at critical times, to form the “right” negotiation position. Much of this phase is an inward-looking time of information gathering and communication locally, rather than an outward-looking time of controlling information flows to the corporation. There is no one or “best” model for structuring negotiations – structures need to reflect specific local and regional conditions.

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Rather, our idea is to give people options to use as a starting point for developing their own structure. It is important to think about this issue in advance and make a deliberate decision about how to structure the team(s), rather than just falling into a particular structure by default. A well thought-out negotiation structure creates the capacity to maintain contact between participants over time; to commission, collate and effectively act on research; and to efficiently run the “business” of negotiation (e.g., signing employment and consultancy contacts, issuing invoices, processing payments). An appropriate institutional structure is required to permit accumulation of knowledge and expertise, and to ensure lessons learned from one set of negotiations are remembered and applied to the next. It is possible to bring a team of experts together on an ad hoc basis for specific negotiations, but in the absence of appropriate institutional arrangements, the experience they gain is often quickly dissipated with no “corporate” learning and knowledge retention.

Roles and Structures for Negotiations

If there is to be a community steering committee and a negotiating team, the first group can have the role of acting as a conduit to the wider community. There can be a variety of people on the committee or committees, including elders, youth and women.It can be helpful to have the team look like a miniature version of the community, withnall its diversity. Groups or families that may be particularly affected by mining can be included, such as gatherers, and hunters and trappers whose trap lines are in the impacted area, as well as the regional representatives.Interest mapping (also known as stakeholder mapping) can be used to identify the range of people interested in the issue and affected by it, and then a leader or representative group from each can be drawn into the community steering committee. This discussion can help to define the main groups from which to draw a steering committee. This exercise can be helpful later when the negotiating team identifies how and when to share information with the broader community.

Negotiating Team Composition

The specific composition of the team will vary, depending on the context and the group. Whatever its composition, its members will need to have all the required skills, including cultural competence, communication, and outreach ability. Roles should be defined for different team members, depending on their capacities and interests. A head or lead negotiator is often chosen. This person’s role often includes ensuring that the team actually works as a “team,” there is one channel of communication so that a consistent message is communicated to the company, and the danger of a company seeking to “divide and rule” the community and its negotiators is minimized.

A lead negotiator should be someone who is:

  • A proud and strong community person, not a consultant or lawyer.It would be beneficial if the person spoke the indigenous language.
  • Confident in their treatment of outsiders, but humble in the presence of their own community members.
  • Very skilled in working with the community, particularly in listening to community members and bringing them into discussion and negotiations at appropriate times. This will be an important quality because the key role for chief negotiators is not to make final decisions, but to present alternatives and facilitate informed choices by the people they represent.

In choosing other team members – both from the community and outside experts – the following points should be considered:

  • It can be useful to have both people who are naturally “hardline” negotiators and people who accommodate, so they can change the negotiation dynamics of a room as needed. Of course, personality traits must be tested in the fire of negotiations, making negotiating experience and performance key considerations when developing a new team. It is also important to have people who can be flexible, as a change in a person’s approach (from hard to soft and vice versa) can be very effective in sending signals to the other side.
  • Political leaders often may not be included in negotiating teams, so that there is another layer of decision-makers to refer to. The need to report back to leaders and gain their support on a negotiation point can also provide a tactical advantage – a reason for much needed breaks from negotiations. Furthermore, political leaders are already managing many responsibilities.
  • Consider the composition of the company negotiating team when deciding who should participate in individual negotiations. As a general rule, follow the principle of “equivalency” – having people of roughly equivalent status or seniority on both sides. If the company sends staff or consultants, don’t send elders or the chief negotiator. This devalues the position of the people who are sent, and leaves the company with the ability to avoid dealing with issues or proposals the community raises by arguing that they must be considered by more senior company staff. Similarly, if the company is sending a senior decision-makers such as a managing director, don’t send less senior community negotiators. To do so may offend the managing director, and may mean that opportunities to make rapid progress are lost because the community negotiators lack the authority to respond to company proposals.
  • If community negotiators have limited experience, they should be trained in negotiations or briefed constantly by someone with more experience.
  • Negotiators that are confident in their own convictions, but are able to accept the ideas and criticisms of others, are very effective. Negotiating team members should be open and transparent about any preconceived notions they have about the company, the project, and what they think the community should do. If there are internal tensions based on personal conviction or preconceived ideas, there are two options: make sure the person accepts and can act as a team member in the negotiation (abiding with the negotiation stance of the community), or let them go.

Negotiating Team Selection Process

There are lots of options for selecting and endorsing members of the team. Each society will have its own culturally-defined ideas about the best way to find team leaders and team members. They can be elected, or selected by the political leadership based on their expertise, negotiating skills, or reputation. Sometimes elders make decisions about who to appoint or how they should be chosen. In other cases, political decision-makers appoint members to the negotiating teams.

Roles of Key People on the Negotiating Team

Once people are selected for the negotiating team, roles for the team members need to be outlined. Critical roles will be a lead negotiator, a secretary and a budget manager, although it may be feasible to combine secretarial and treasurer roles.

  • The LEAD NEGOTIATOR will have the role of organizing the team, leading in the negotiations, speaking in sessions, and reporting back to the communities.
  • The SECRETARY will be responsible for keeping records of meetings and channelling communication between the company, the government and other parties.
  • The BUDGET MANAGER will keep tabs on the expenditures, and ensure sufficient funds are available to support the negotiations to their conclusion. There is no formula for assigning specific roles in negotiations. Rather, the available skills needed to matched up with the various roles that must be performed in a way that is effective for the team.

The negotiating team will also need to include, or have access to, expert advice on a range of issues that will arise in negotiations. This might range from a lawyer or consultant who plays a central role throughout negotiations, to the occasional need for resource people with specialist skills in geology or economics (among other areas) at different junctures. For example, expert advice may be needed on how money that eventually flows to a community under an agreement should be managed. This issue needs to be addressed in the early phases of negotiations as it often becomes a key conflict issue in communities if it is left until the money has started to flow.

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Negotiation Strategies of the Company "Rio Tinto Alcan". (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

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