chapter  12
15 Pages

Structures of escalation and negotiation

Escalation is an augmented effort to prevail. It can be either unilateral or bilateral but in either case, it is a responsive action. Unilaterally, a party escalates on its own, in response to its previous action or to that action’s insufficiency. Bilaterally, the more common understanding of the term, each party responds to the other’s increasing effort to prevail. Thus conceived, escalation is an expression of power, a rational approach to conflict, as parties take increasing actions to change the other party’s behavior.30 Escalation is the pursuit of conflict designed to end conflict. But the designed end can be either on the escalator’s own terms, as in victory, or on jointly decided terms, as in negotiation. Escalation ends when the parties can or will escalate no more, that is, when one or both run out of resources, when one prevails, or when both come to an agreement that removes the incompatibility of positions.