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The effects of urgency to reach agreement on the process and outcome of multi-party natural resource negotiations

January 1, 2005

We studied seven hydropower license consultations to examine the role of a sense of urgency to reach agreement. Hydropower licensing consultations were studied because the statutory requirement for consultation encourages negotiation, all such consultations are similar, and a negotiated settlement is not a foregone result. Cases selected for analysis met screening criteria. Structured interviews were conducted with participants after the negotiations had been concluded. Respondent recollections were checked against the documentary record. A sense of urgency to reach agreement was a significant factor in the completion of these negotiations; where there was no shared sense of urgency, purposeful delay adversely affected the negotiations. Although a sense of urgency was experienced by at least one party in each case, only a shared sense of urgency at the end of the process proved significant. Delay did not prevent ultimate agreement but a shared sense of urgency brought speedier agreement and greater satisfaction with the negotiation.