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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Painting Yourself Into a Corner

the problem with 'This is it; no mas" is that it only works, or doesn't work, once. It's what is called "painting yourself into a corner." If in fact the Globe is prepared to shut its doors, shut down its printing presses, fold, then it is good to make sure the negotiating rival understand the consequences of its failure to make concessions. But if it's a bluff, and the union calls it, the Globe either folds or loses all future bargaining leverage.

When he was Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles was the all-time champion of brinksmanship and, for the most part, it worked. But one of my students at Princeton presented me with a thesis in which he traced the effects of miscalculation and misunderstanding leading up to World War I (Barbara Tuchman did the same, somewhat differently, in her book). It may work, but the possibilities for disaster are plentiful. As a general rule, therefore, patience, persistence, broadening the range of options, etc., are far better ways to proceed than ultimatums.

By Mickey Edwards

 |  May 4, 2009; 2:31 PM ET
Category:  Managing Crises Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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