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Congressional Paralysis Is a Symptom of Generational Collision

Released: 7-Oct-2013 1:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Kathleen O’Connor is professor of management and organizations at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, and an organizational psychologist who studies negotiation, teamwork and decision making. Her recent research focuses on how powerful group negotiations link together over time to move toward a resolution, and she comments on the prospects that ongoing battles in Congress linked to a partial government shutdown will be constructively resolved.

O’Connor says:

“Compromise is critical to effective governing, yet we see a refusal to compromise by all involved. The underlying problem among members of Congress could be characterized as ‘generational.’ Newly elected members either have decided they don’t like to compromise or have made pledges and promises to their constituents that make it difficult to compromise.

“Negotiation involves considering who has power, the cost of compromise and the alternatives if the deal on the table doesn't go through. Wiser, more experienced congressional leaders remember the last shutdown, and know that compromise will be required to end this one. However their experience is colliding with the entrenched position held by younger members, who were elected with strong grassroots support. And, if you look beyond positions, it's not in Reid's or the Democrats' interest to negotiate. Yet.”

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