Explaining Negotiation Outcomes: Process or Context?

  • Cynthia Irmer
  • Daniel Druckman


This study evaluates a set of hypotheses about the relative influence of negotiating processes and contexts on outcomes. The investigation proceeds in a sequence of steps. First, a number of process and outcome variables are coded from documented cases of 26 settled violent conflicts that have occurred since the end of World War II. These cases are used also to evaluate the impact of four contextual variables. High partial correlations indicate a strong relationship between process and outcome controlling for context. Second, a set of structured focused comparisons was conducted with four matched and mis‐matched cases. By tracing the process in each of these cases through phases of the talks, we showed that there is a causal relationship between process and outcome. Third, a plausibility probe was designed to identify a mechanism responsible for the causal relationship. The probe discovered that the development of trust is a plausible explanation for the relationship between process and outcome. This mode of inquiry, referred to as ACE (association, causation, and explanation), is regarded as a model for research on negotiation and peace processes.

Keywords: negotiation processes, outcomes, plausibility probe, process tracing, structured focused comparisons, trust

How to Cite:

Irmer, C. & Druckman, D., (2009) “Explaining Negotiation Outcomes: Process or Context?”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 2(3), 209-235. doi:

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Published on
08 Jul 2009
Peer Reviewed