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What Is Brinkmanship?

Brinkmanship is a negotiating technique where one party aggressively seeks after a set of terms so the other party must either concur or withdraw. Brinkmanship (or "brinkpersonship," or less commonly, "brinksmanship") is so named in light of the fact that one party pushes the other to the "verge" or edge of what that party will oblige.

As a negotiation strategy, brinkmanship is frequently utilized by companies and union mediators in labor negotiations and stoppages (or strikes), by negotiators, and by business individuals hoping to get a better deal.

Figuring out Brinkmanship

At its core, brinkmanship is seeking progress in a negotiation by being nonsensical. The rewards from brinkmanship are possibly greater than in a more friendly negotiation since the more aggressive party is probably going to gain better terms on the off chance that their strategy is fruitful. Companies or people seeking after a brinkmanship approach to arranging might do it as a feign; they may acknowledge more equitable terms yet need to check whether they can have it completely their way first.

In politics and tact, brinkmanship includes two parties permitting a dispute to progress to the point of close fiasco before a negotiated solution is even thought of or examined. In effect, it is like playing "chicken" to see which party will withdraw first.

Brinkmanship Risks

Brinkmanship is however questionable as it could be risky. While it might sporadically yield better terms in certain negotiations, it might likewise make long-term hatred among business partners and employees. This can particularly turn into a problem when rehashed connections between similar parties across various deals happen after some time or when comparative negotiations with different parties are involved. An arranging party can foster a reputation for chasing after a strategy of brinkmanship. It might even venture to such an extreme as to distance a contradicting party and cause a disappointment in negotiations in which no party carries on with work and a business relationship can't be rescued for a long time to come.

The term "brinkmanship" first appeared in a 1956 article in Life Magazine in a meeting with former U.S. secretary of state John Foster Dulles, in which he asserted that, in strategy, "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the essential art...if you are scared to go to the edge, you are lost."

Economics of Brinkmanship

Under certain economic conditions, brinkmanship will be bound to prevail as an arranging strategy. Market structure can play a key job in the achievement or disappointment of brinkmanship. At the point when a party has a high degree of market power and the counterparty doesn't, brinkmanship is bound to be valuable. In situations where either party has a bigger number of options accessible, that party will enjoy a benefit assuming brinkmanship is employed. This is connected with the competitive advantage delivered by market concentration with respect to providers or customers portrayed in Michael Porter's 5 Forces model.

Likewise, chasing after a strategy of brinkmanship can take advantage of an economic phenomenon known as "hold-up," developed by economist Oliver Williamson. Hold-up can happen at whatever point a party has made an investment in assets whose value is dependent on a specific relationship. An existing relationship with a counterparty that remembers their investment for relationship-specific assets gives an advantage to a brinksmanship strategy on the grounds that the counterparty risks losing the value of the relationship.

Note that these conditions likewise apply in reverse. A party that doesn't have market power, whose counterparty has market power, or who is vigorously invested in relationship-specific assets will be both less effective in chasing after a brinkmanship strategy and will be more defenseless against brinkmanship themselves.

Brinkmanship Tips

Even assuming that brinkmanship is an aggressive practice, it might yield results for the aggressor. The key is to reduce the possibilities of a business relationship being unsalvageably hurt by utilizing it. While haggling with a vendor or provider utilizing brinkmanship, an aggressor ought to ensure they have a backup plan in case the vendor or provider chooses to separate. Brinkmanship ought to likewise be employed toward the beginning of a negotiation; whenever utilized toward the finish of negotiations it can display a lack of good faith and constantly outrage the other party.

Brinkmanship ought to possibly be utilized when a relationship has been developed; utilizing it too early will urge any prospective business partner or vendor to walk away in light of the fact that they presently can't seem to invest any time or exertion. Moderators ought to likewise be sensible; asking for an enormous discount from a provider might be economically unviable for themselves and could end negotiations completely.

Answering Brinkmanship

Brinkmanship can be disruptive and make negotiations disentangle. Assuming you are forced to bear such strategies, it can leave you feeling harassed, powerless, or restless.

One method for staying away from this situation is to find alternative business partners, vendors, or customers that don't have similar demands, This tries not to need to make superfluous or awkward concessions. On the off chance that, in any case, there are no such alternatives one strategy is to acknowledge an aggressive demand yet additionally look for relief somewhere else. For example, in the event that a key provider offers a live with or without it price on a required part, you might ask for something different of value like an extended warranty, free customer support, or future discounts.

Illustration of Brinkmanship in Business

There are numerous instances of brinkmanship in business negotiations. A common model is a live with or without it offer, which may likewise accompany a generally short time period for consideration (e.g., $10,000 is my last offer, and it's just really great for five minutes!).

This type of "hard deal" is a strategy frequently found in big-ticket things, for example, while shopping for a vehicle or house hunting. In the event that a vehicle or property is particularly in high demand these types of offers can block the ever changing negotiations and wrangling that may somehow happen.

Say that a potential homebuyer sees a property and puts in a bid for $500,000 while the asking price is $550,000. The buyer doesn't as a rule know the seller's situation or that they are so anxious to sell. The buyer may hence participate in brinksmanship by saying the price is [best and final](/best-and-last offer), and great for just 24 hours.


  • The term previously appeared in foreign policy as a form of aggressive strategy that could carry parties "really close to war."
  • Brinkmanship can be utilized to gain more advantageous terms in a business deal, however risks estranging counterparties.
  • In business negotiations, brinkmanship has turned into a point of artful expertise.
  • Brinkmanship is an arranging strategy that includes setting a set of expectations and adhering to them, even at the risk of losing the deal completely.
  • Market structure, existing economic relationships, accessible alternatives, and timing are factors to consider in picking whether to take part in brinkmanship.


What Is Brinkmanship in Foreign Policy?

In foreign policy, brinkmanship is a form of aggressive strategy wherein one or the two players force the collaboration between them to the threshold of conflict to gain an advantageous negotiation position over the other.

What Is Brinkmanship Negotiation?

Brinkmanship means to "bring to the verge" a deal. The verge being the edge of a cliff, it alludes to making an aggressive offer that can possibly crash negotiations and push the deal over the point of no return. The term originated with regards to war and tact during the 1900s, however immediately advanced toward business.

How Do You Deal With Brinkmanship?

Specialists say that the best method for dealing with brinkmanship is to reduce any weaknesses before going into negotiations in any case. In any case, here and there this is unthinkable. In such situations, it is best to look for alternative parties to haggle with or look for concessions somewhere else.