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Delivered Chilled 30 x ml 30 x ml. Coca Cola 24 x ml 24 x ml. Schweppes Slimline Indian Tonic Water 12 x ml 12 x ml. Schweppes Diet Lemonade 6 x ml 6 x ml. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey 70cl 70cl.
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Bacardi Superior Rum 1L 1L. Gordon's Premium Pink Distilled Gin 70cl 70cl. Schweppes Original Lemonade 6 x ml 6 x ml. Three Barrels Brandy 1L 1L. Schweppes Ginger Ale 1L 1L. Baileys Original Irish Cream 70cl 70cl. Diet Pepsi Cans 24 x ml 24 x ml. Morrisons Bitter Lemon 1L 1L. The payoff? Experienced negotiators are generally comfortable working out the terms of an economic contract: They bargain for the best price, haggle over equity splits, and iron out detailed exit clauses.
But these same seasoned professionals often spend so much time hammering out the letter of the deal that they pay little attention to the social contract, or the spirit of the deal. So while the parties agree to the same terms on paper, they may actually have very different expectations about how the agreement will work in practice.
Consider the fate of a joint venture launched by two chains: a national hospital organization and a regional health care provider. In response, they enthusiastically negotiated a joint venture that would manage the two hospitals and buy or build needed facilities within their shared area. The national chain was understandably concerned that the joint venture might one day fail and its hospital—now offering reduced services—would no longer be competitive.
Executives at the regional chain, by contrast, saw the joint venture as a way to extend and rationalize their regional network. Such a deal would have ignored possible operating efficiencies and focused on gains from jointly buying practices and building shared feeder facilities. This contract has two levels: The underlying social contract answers the question, What? For instance, are we working out a series of discrete transactions or a real partnership?
What is the real nature, extent, and duration of our agreement? The ongoing social contract answers the question, How? In practice, how will we make decisions, handle unforeseen events, communicate, and resolve disputes? Too many negotiators leave the underlying social contract implicit, which can cause misunderstandings and ultimately poison a relationship.
Rather than discuss their expectations during negotiations, the parties project their own reasonable, but sometimes incompatible, assumptions about the fundamental nature of the deal. Some people, for instance, view a contract as a starting point for a problem-solving relationship.
Each approach is valid; the important thing is to recognize the potential for differing views and to try to align them. Like clashing views of partnership versus transaction, divergent assumptions about autonomy versus conformity may create problems when the difference is identified late in the game. Consider what happened to an entrepreneur who failed to get clarity on this issue before she sold her boutique enterprise to a very eager corporate buyer. The responsible corporate executive passionately shared her goal of taking the boutique concept global, but he simply assumed that only by following highly disciplined corporate procedures would the global rollout be possible.
Soon after the celebratory dinner, the unhappy reality began to dawn on the seller in the form of a legion of junior staff from HR delivering policy manuals and patronizing lectures on who bought whom. Even though the provisions of the economic contract—the letter of the deal on financial terms, governance, and the like—were acceptable to her, there had clearly been no meeting of the minds on the underlying social contract. Chances are, this will be one more failed acquisition despite its strategic logic, the skills and good intentions of both sides, and an acceptable economic contract.
Failure to make the underlying social contract explicit is by no means limited to small companies like the boutique enterprise.
The banks planned to merge their retail operations, enabling them to close about branches and concentrate on their more profitable corporate businesses. I never had the slightest feeling that things would go differently. Yet within hours of the joint announcement of the merger, Deutsche apparently decided to sell DrKB, believing that its own investment-banking arm had further global reach.
Parties that differ in basic ways are especially likely to hold divergent views of the underlying social contract. For example, serious postalliance ownership conflict between Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was less due to a cultural clash than it was exacerbated by a disagreement over management focus and risk tolerance. Gary Wilson and Al Checchi were high-profile, risk-taking financiers who had acquired Northwest in a highly leveraged buyout. Even agreement on the terms of an economic contract could not resolve those fundamentally different approaches to running an airline.
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The examples given thus far illustrate some of the issues that need to be aired about whether minds have truly met on the underlying social contract. Other questions include, Is this a short- or long-term deal? Is it openended or task specific? Will it be learning or production oriented? Do we believe in lifetime or at-will employment? Imagine, for example, two companies that both want control in a proposed equity joint venture.
If pressed to fully resolve the issue at the outset, they would probably walk away from the deal. Yet if they could agree to launch a pilot venture with shared control, even if each side still believes that it must have total control in the ultimate venture, the deal might build their confidence in their ability to work together—even without such control.
Success in the pilot could change the way they approach the social contract in the larger deal.
The Social Contract
Just as important as the underlying social contract is the ongoing social contract. It answers the question, How will we work together? Properly negotiated, it outlines the broad process expectations for how the parties will interact: norms for communication, consultation, and decision making; how unforeseen events will be handled; dispute resolution; conditions and means for renegotiation; and the like.
A positive ongoing social contract can foster efficient sharing of information; lower the costs of complex adaptation; permit rapid exploitation of unexpected opportunities without the parties having to write, monitor, and enforce complete contracts; and reduce transaction costs and even fears of exploitation.
Clearly, a well-functioning ongoing social contract is beneficial, but too often, partners hold conflicting expectations. Imagine, for example, that a global manufacturer has a joint venture with a major local distributor.
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The relationship runs smoothly until the manufacturer approaches another distributor about selling a different product line. Since the economic contract governing their joint venture said nothing about the new line, the manufacturer may think it perfectly reasonable to use another distributor. But the first distributor may have expected to have been given the opportunity and may think that the manufacturer has acted in bad faith. Because their assumptions were never made clear, their relationship suffers, even though no actual breach of contract has occurred.
Because conscious efforts to shape the social contract can help stave off problems like this, we suggest that both sides conduct an audit of sorts. They should formally ask such straightforward questions as, How will we handle proprietary information? About what actions—inside and outside the bounds of the deal—will we inform each other? How do we properly launch a partnership? Discussing expectations before you sign a deal can greatly increase the odds of its success. To help you get that conversation started, here are some sample questions about the letter and spirit of your deal.
Do you envision a discrete transaction or a partnership? A merger of equals or something quite different? Are you building an institution for the long term or making a financial investment with a nearer horizon? What is the driving culture operational, for example, or research oriented? Is your agreement focused on a discrete, short-term task, or is it open-ended?
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Is it a likely prelude to a larger or different arrangement? What kinds of actions, even outside the bounds of the deal, do you expect to be told about? And about which do you expect some say? How fully, formally, and frequently do you expect to consult with the other side? How extensively will you and your partner share or protect information?
Beyond the formal governance mechanisms, by what process do you want to discuss and make decisions: by consensus or majority? Informally or formally? Samples of all the ingredients were given and a taste of the finished rum; which was lovely. Ended with two lovey different rum cocktails and it was clear the guide had very good cocktail making experience. Enjoyed our tour very much.
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Food: 4 Ambience: 4 Service: 5 Value: 5. Wester spirit co is a distillery not a restaurant Three of us went for a tour of this rum distillery, it was smaller than we expected but the guy who gave us the tour was very knowledgeable and told us loads of interesting stuff about the history of rum up to the present day. The whole thing lasted about an hour and it was well worth going. Photos of Wester Spirit Co.