A strategic perspective on environmental issues gives salience to conflict and confrontation. But strategy is not just about managing confrontation or competition well, but about managing complex combinations of rational choice, conflict and collaboration. This is precisely where negotiation is at home. Decisive negotiations are an essential part of how we manage environmental issues at all scales, from the multi-stakeholder management of protected areas to the multilateral diplomacy of global environmental agreements. My research on negotiation explores mostly two avenues.
Analysing the places and roles of negotiations in environmental decision-making processes proceeds from my insistence on setting tools and action in their wider strategic contexts. Such analysis rests on detailed empirical studies of environmental decision-making processes, with a focus on identifying and understanding multiple negotiations (some of which may be interstitial, tacit or hidden). A first text in 1998 outlines the aims of such research. [insert pdf LM 98]
A breakthrough set of case-studies by Yann Laurans and Isabelle Dubien demonstrates how decisions about permitting for incinerators, which officially involve no negotiation phase, involve a number of decisive negotiations of various types, that are found predictably accross case-studies.
A more 2005 research report, based on further case-studies, proposes a systematisation of and methodological tool-box for such studies of the places and roles of negotiations in complex (environmental) decision-making processes.
My second research theme on environmental negotiations is the ambiguous nature of negotiation as a process. In a research and policy context that seems to be dominated by collaborative norms and discourse, negotiation offers an alternative conceptual model where confrontational and cooperative tactics are inseparable. This has been a running theme of negotiation research since its beginnings in the 1960s. My work extends on this theme, addressing questions like: What is the fundamental relation between collaboration, confrontation, arbitration, negotiation? or How does the researcher’s own views of a divisive situation underpin his analytical framing (see publications, 2011)?