Coercive Bargaining: An analysis of power in negotiations with Somali pirates

Martin M. R. Krog

Student thesis: Master thesis


Negotiations are complex interactions where the outcomes often are affected by factors that may not have appeared important from the start. Therefore it is interesting to understand what factors influence a negotiation and how a party in a negotiation can achieve its goal. In its simplest form this can be described as the ability to adequately obtain and apply negotiation power. And in more extreme negotiations, such as piracy negotiations, this may be a crucial element to reach the goal in reasonable time. This paper seeks to investigate the development of negotiation power in two negotiations between western shipping companies and Somali pirates. But in order to do this the paper also aims to identify the various factors, including cultural differences, that may affect such negotiations, and how the balance of negotiation power is at the start of negotiations. Because Somali piracy negotiations contain elements of both business and hostage negotiations, literature from both areas is reviewed to identify relevant factors and present a model of negotiation power and related factors. Piracy negotiations are generally shrouded in secrecy due to both legal and ethical reasons. Therefore insight into the two cases analyzed in this paper is not complete. However the analyses seek to identify and understand key points or factors that have affected the balance of power in the negotiations. The paper concludes that there are several factors that can be influenced to affect the balance of power in these negotiations, and that a shipping company potentially can diminish the power of the pirates during the negotiation. However it is also recognized that since Somali pirates generally seem to obtain a ransom payment, the understanding of success in these negotiations depends on individual perspectives. Finally the paper presents some reflections on how Somali piracy negotiations may develop in the coming years.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages89