As we mentioned above, one of the most apparent features of the current treatment of time pressure in conflict resolution is that, while many diplomats advocate the importance of deadlines for the success of negotiations, few provide a systematic analysis of the process through which time limits impact on the decisions and strategies of the parties involved. More specifically, the main thesis of this chapter is that a certain degree of incommunicability exists between two bodies of literature – between what we will define as ‘diplomatic manuals’ and the most recent conclusions of experimental psychology, in particular those influenced by cognitivist approaches. The main sources that will be reviewed, and which justify attaching these labels to these bodies of literature, are, on the one hand, manuals written primarily since the 1980s with the explicit aim of providing an overview of negotiating principles and strategies to diplomats and politicians involved in international negotiations, spanning from Zartman and Berman’s The Practical Negotiator (1982) to Berridge’s Diplomacy: Theory and Practice (2005). On the other hand, the works in experimental psychology upon which we will rely are papers that reflect the debates on the role of time pressure on individual and collective decision-making which have been developing since the 1950s in journals such as the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (cf. Smock 1955), the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (cf. Pruitt and Latané Drews 1969) or the Journal of Applied Psychology (cf. Wright 1974). More recent contributions, which are mostly influenced by the increased relevance of cognitivist approaches to decision-making, have also been collected in Svenson and Maule’s edited volume Time Pressure and Stress in Human Judgment and Decision Making (1993), on which a significant part of the analysis in Section 2.2 is based. This chapter will argue that, despite occasional attempts to bridge the gap between these two fields of research (cf. Pruitt and Carnevale 1997), the common understanding of the assets and liabilities of time pressure in international negotiations that one could find in diplomatic manuals is very partial. In particular, a crucial set of findings of experimental psychology concerning the cognitive impact of time pressure on individual and
collective decision-making – which highlights the systematic negative impact of time pressure on ‘complex’ decision-making processes – is not considered in diplomatic manuals, and this could drastically affect how practitioners perceive the efficiency of time pressure, in particular when applied artificially in prolonged peace negotiations. This realization can have major disruptive effects as it could be argued that a rather optimistic approach to ‘time management’ – according to some directly drawn from the world of corporate business (Chollet 1997: 236) – is one of the cornerstones of the current paradigms in conflict resolution. This chapter will begin by outlining the development of the debate on the role of time in diplomacy and conflict resolution, which will aid an understanding of the important position played by time pressure in most diplomatic manuals. Material from experimental psychology will then be reviewed to highlight what the main contribution of psychologists to the understanding of the impact of time pressure on decision-making and negotiation is – namely, the role of ‘situational factors’ or ‘task variables’ as intervening variables. This analysis will inform the main research questions that will be answered in the following chapters and will be followed by a review of the debates related to the role of time pressure in negotiation that will be not be directly addressed but that will receive some attention in the case-study section of the research, and those which do not fall within the theoretical reach of this study.