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Buying cakes and sodas for a party in an orphanage in Cambodia with a very limited budget

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  1. The context
  2. The negotiation
    1. Distributive bargaining
    2. Integrative Negotiation
  3. Analysis of the strategies used by both sides
    1. Relationship and outcome concerns
    2. Tactics
  4. The opposite relation BATNA / Time
  5. If I were to do this negotiation again, would I do it differently?

In November 2006, I went to Cambodia for 2 months as a volunteer for a French NGO called ASPECA Enfants d'Asie. I spent more than one month in one orphan center in Battambang in the north west of Cambodia, not far from the border with Thailand. My principal mission was to conduct an audit of the orphanage, to give French and English lessons to children from 5 to 21 years old. We were two students from my university in France. The girl with whom I went there spoke a little Cambodian but she was not fluent. We had a total budget of $400 to spend for the center. The last week, it remained $85 to spend for the orphanage. We planned to use this money to finance the organization to arrange a party for our departure. We fixed the amount around $70 for the food (target point). This might be a huge sum in Cambodia but there were around 110 children in the center and including the members of the staff, we had to buy food for more than 120 people.

[...] Consequently, our acceptance to pay more than our target point was increasing. Culture differences in this negotiation If we refer to the typology of Hofstede, Cambodia may be classified as a collectivist country (group focus) and France as an individualistic country. These cultural based differences in negotiations may be the reasons for failure in reaching a deal. That is why we repeated that we were helping Cambodian children and that our aim was collective and not individualist. Not losing face is another key cultural element. This concept comes from China. [...]

[...] Second, the price was much too high From step 1 to step Distributive Bargaining To t0 to t1 (Step1): an extreme opening offer Before negotiating the prices, we explained to the seller that we wanted to organize a party in an orphan center and we needed to buy some food. We told him the quantity we wanted and if it would possible to prepare some extra cakes before 6PM (the dinner would begin at 7PM). He said that it might be possible to prepare some more cakes. [...]

[...] ?This was an outstanding and unusual request (mass order) for him that is why he quoted a high price. This was for him to keep a margin in the upcoming negotiations. As I said previously, this was an extreme offer but on the other hand, we did not know exactly the prices in the other shops (fuzzy BATNA). After one month in Cambodia, we just knew that we just had to bargain on everything. After having asked his brother, he came back and said that the 7 chickens plus the potatoes would cost $55 so the whole price would be 120$. [...]

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