Turning Points at the Round Table Talks


  • Daniel Druckman
  • Dominika Bulska
  • Łukasz Jochemczyk


At the beginning of the 1990s the “winds of change” blew through Europe, leading to the fall of Communism and regime change in several Eastern-European countries. The domino effect started in Poland with the Round Table negotiations that ultimately led to democratization of the country. The context that allowed this historical event to occur has been studied, but the talks themselves have not been analyzed in detail. In this article, we undertake this task. Using several complementary analytical approaches – negotiation theory, turning points analysis and dynamical systems – we study the process of getting to an agreement, focusing on the seven key issues of the negotiations. We treat the Round Table Talks both as a unique case of negotiations, given its structure and the context in which it happened, as well as an event comparable to other negotiations and connecting to the broader negotiation literature. Results of our inquiries show the importance of procedures during the talks and highlight the role played by motivation in propelling the negotiating parties to an agreement. We discuss the implications of our findings for negotiation theory and for the broader context of the historical event.