‘Distributive spirals’ are undermining global climate negotiations before they have begun, declares Professor of Organisational Behaviour in discussion with Chris Caldwell of United Renewables

Professor Kathleen O’Connor speaks to Chris Caldwell of United Renewables on the art of negotiation.Professor Kathleen O’Connor speaks to Chris Caldwell of United Renewables on the art of negotiation.

DOUGLAS, Isle of Man, Feb. 20, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ‘Spiral patterns’ of deadlock from previous global climate summits are priming future participants to ‘come out of the gate tougher and more competitive,’ which makes success at COP 28 and beyond less likely, according to Kathleen O’Connor, global expert on negotiation and Clinical Professor at London Business School. 

‘The research suggests that if you’ve had an impasse, it doesn’t matter what negotiation comes next,’ Professor O’Connor explained on an episode of Conversations on Climate released today. Instead, the behavioural psychology of human biases naturally result in, ‘a danger, because you get into what we call distributive spirals.’ 

‘Distributive spirals’ characteristic of COP negotiations

A distributive spiral is Professor OConnors term, developed from her own research, for the phenomenon of failed negotiations creating negative emotional responses and perceptions of counterparties in the negotiators themselves, which are then carried forward into future interactions.

COP 27, which took place in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt in November 2022, was widely criticised for delegator intransigence and deadlocked talks, which had to be extended beyond its original deadline into the weekend to allow time for a resolution to be found.   

‘You can only fix it through psychology’

Responding to podcast host and climate entrepreneur Chris Caldwell’s suggestion for a ‘reset’ by starting again ‘at COP 1,’ O’Connor agreed that reframing the negotiations was the way forward. ‘You do have to change up the space,’ of the negotiation in order to overcome the ‘human bias,’ and pointed to framing and priming strategies as contributions from organisational psychology that could unlock impasses in future conferences. 

Caldwell is an entrepreneur and founder of United Renewables, a green energy firm working across wind, solar, tidal and anaerobic technologies with a special interest in serving island communities. He is also a growing authority in the digital climate debate, as host of the podcast Conversations on Climate.

Conversations on Climate is a joint production of United Renewables and the London Business School Alumni Energy Club.

The latest episode, featuring Clinical Professor Kathleen O’Connor of London Business School, is available here.

Conversations on Climate brings world-leading thinkers from business and academia together to share their expertise on the subject of climate change. Previous guests include Sir Andrew Likierman, Julio Dal Poz, Professor Jean-Pierre Benoît, Professor IoannouTara Schmidt, Professor Dan Cable and Professor Zoe Chance.

All previous episodes can be found here. Related articles can be found here.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/8e92ab0a-cb4d-48a0-979f-bc43066bda3e

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