Decisions in Negotiated Texts

Decision-making is a cognitive process whereby an idea or a course of action is selected among several alternative possibilities. It is the process of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values, preferences, and beliefs of the decision-maker. Every decision-making process results in a final choice, which may or may not prompt action.

A negotiation will reach its conclusions by taking decisions on the proposals that have been made by its members. These decisions will be on extremely specific proposals -- to accept or reject a particular piece of text from a draft of the document under discussion.

There can be a significant amount of strategy involved. Members of a negotiation may vote in favour of suggestions that they do not desire, in order to provide an opportunity to further debate it at another stage, or because they are accepting a compromise over a specific issue, or because they are willing to compromise on one issue in return for a compromise on another.

The order in which decisions are taken, and the context in which they are taken, is important in understanding why a particular decision was reached.

  • What had been agreed up to that point already?
  • What had already been rejected?
  • What other suggestions had already been made but not yet resolved?

All of these questions, and more, help us to understand the outcomes of a negotiation.

Depending on the type of negotiation, decisions may be made on the basis of the votes of individuals (such as in most legislative assemblies) or votes of delegations (such as at the Constitutional Convention), whose members will have to agree how to use their votes.

In a convention / negotiated texts, decisions are made by:

  • Voting on amendments and procedures
  • Vote on specific decisions

What can I do with Quill?

Quill enables you to:

  • understand the context in which particular votes are taken. For example: Connecticut Delegation's \ voting details in the Convention
  • have overviews that give a sense of the series of votes within a process of negotiation, that help to show how controversial particular decisions were or whether particular individuals won or lost particular votes
  • identify the alliances and influence in this convention
  • access summary statistics that help users to explore the alliances within a convention, or the influence of particular individuals and delegations