Building Partnerships Across Cultures as Negotiating Reality
Pp. 79-92 (14)
Victor J. Friedman and Daniella Arieli
This paper presents a strategy for building intercultural partnerships through "negotiating reality."
Negotiating reality sees conflict as an integral part of cross-cultural partnership build, but it distinguishes itself
from "adaptation” strategies which assume that one party can understand and adjust their thinking and behavior to
that of the other. Adaptation strategies are usually based on simplistic, stereotypical models of culture that may be
valid in the context of short-term formal interactions, but not in the building of complex, long-term interactions.
Negotiating reality, on the other hand, takes into account the cultural complexity of individuals and the contexts
in which partnership building takes place. It encourages all parties to critically and openly reflect on how they
perceive situations, the nature of the interaction, and what they believe should be done. In the process of
negotiating reality parties make their own thinking explicit while at the same time inquiring into the thinking of
others. The paper presents a case study, involving the authors of this paper, which illustrates a partnership
between Jewish researchers and leaders of a Palestinian Arabs NGO that went wrong. Through negotiating
reality, the partners were able to see the different ways they viewed each other and their partnership. They were
also able to see how their actions were conditioned by the political and social context so that, despite good
intentions, they reinforced dynamics and stereotypes they wished to change. Ironically, confronting the real
differences established trust and improved the relationship.
1Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel.