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Brinkmanship is a negotiating strategy in which one or even both sides in a dispute let the circumstance balance on the edge of collapse before working to solve it. The phrase means to bring a threatening situation to the verge or brink of tragedy. 

Although brinkmanship is frequently connected with foreign affairs or military tactics, it is also employed in plenty of other rising scenarios such as labor disputes or business dealings. One or both parties wait for the right moment to have the upper hand in the negotiating process. Brinkmanship is all about the right timing since pushing the brake a few minutes late can mean playing in the hand of the opponent.


For example, we can consider the possibility of a labor union strike. When unions are dissatisfied, they can threaten to protest repeatedly to convince businesses to fulfill their demands. A protest is a very serious as well as very devastating danger in this situation since it might force a firm to close, lose money, or receive unwanted attention.

In this situation, the preferred result is for both parties to compromise with one another and reach a reciprocal arrangement. If it is not accomplished, the union may be required to carry out its ultimatum and then go on strike. Letting the crisis escalate to the point of absolute anarchy would be considered brinkmanship.

Use of the Term in Sentences

  • The eastern monarch is involved in brinkmanship and continues to issue military aggression.
  • The committee leader, implementing a brinkmanship strategy, paid no attention to that president's proposals unless favorable budget deals were made.


Category: Economics
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