AGB2009: creative burden sharing

This part of the AGB2009 series (see the presentation)
AGB2009: creative burden sharing


In my activities with partners, we had occasional mismatches between the skills, the budget allocations, and the actual needs.

My solution: to share the burden, by adopting creative approaches that focused on the beneficiaries of the results, and negotiated backward on sharing the costs.

I never considered it really innovative- simply, more constructive than starting from the costs and moving to the results.

In negotiations that start as a cost-sharing initiative, the risk is always that one of the partners is tempted to provide what is not really needed, to balance off what is needed and is provided by others.


Map the partners and interests involved in international initiatives.

You will be surprised to see how the “geometry” of the parties involved lacks any symmetry.

The issue is often just a time-asymmetry between the benefits for each of the parties involved.

Charting the needs of each party is a good start, but then you have to consider which partners are willing to join in.

For the sake of the relationship, often the result is the typical “committee decision”: it belongs and satisfies nobody.

A recent article on “Foreign Affairs” suggested an interesting idea on how to match a certain cost (“staging” troops before one of the various conflicts) with a certain need (stabilize Bosnia).

Why shouldn’t this approach be applied elsewhere? Why not in business and politics?

How many endless negotiations are due only to an approach that ignores an agreement on the result, before starting discussing on the “roadmap”?


A slightly unusual bibliography- more an inspiration than a reference:

Patrice McMahon and Jon Western, “Bosnia on the Brink”, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2009 (available online for free)
supposedly a review of the Dayton agreement of 1995, it is really a case study on democracy-building
Hugh Cecil & Peter H Liddle, “At the Eleventh Hour”, 1998 Leo Cooper; Part IV, pagg. 315-326
these few pages outline the long-term consequences of an armistice- in 1918
David Hackett Fischer “Washington’s Crossing”, 2004 Oxford University Press, “Conclusions”, pagg. 363-379
a review of the long-term consequences of the decisions adopted in 1776

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