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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 6 On March 1st, the second day of the standoff, Koresh agreed to come out of the compound in exchange for a one-hour airing of an audiotape of his teachings on the Christian Broadcasting Network. A few hours after the broadcast, Koresh informed the FBI negotiators that God had spoken to him and told him to wait. Negotiators continued to talk with Koresh or his main spokesperson, Steve Schneider, trying to bring the Davidians out of the compound safely. Koresh and Schneider, however, were focused on giving the message that the Seven Seals’ predictions were unfolding and Judgment Day was near. During the 51-day standoff, the HRT made various attempts to force the Davidians out of the compound. At the compound, they cut electricity, moved armored personal carriers close to the buildings, and at night flooded the area with bright lights, loud music, and annoying sounds. On April 19th, during an attempt to force the Davidians out using tear gas, the compound caught on fire. Nine Davidians escaped the fire; 75 perished. Conflicting Frames in the Standoff Docherty (2001) argues that differences in worldview revealed a complex layering of incompatible frames between the parties, which created the impasse in the negotiations. Each party also had their own views of how the standoff was expected to unfold. This involved who narrated the standoff, who the important players were, and what the measures of resolution to the standoff were. Docherty draws on Weber’s (1964) classification of social action into four ideal types (goal-rational action, value-rational action, affectual action, and traditionally oriented action) to describe each party’s frame for how they expected the negotiations to proceed. The negotiators in the standoff operated under a barricade situation in which surrounding the subjects is standard procedure. In this framework negotiators answer to their commanders and help the subjects realize that they have no way out. It is assumed that when the subjects

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 6
On March 1st, the second day of the standoff, Koresh agreed to come out of the
compound in exchange for a one-hour airing of an audiotape of his teachings on the Christian
Broadcasting Network. A few hours after the broadcast, Koresh informed the FBI negotiators
that God had spoken to him and told him to wait. Negotiators continued to talk with Koresh or
his main spokesperson, Steve Schneider, trying to bring the Davidians out of the compound
safely. Koresh and Schneider, however, were focused on giving the message that the Seven
Seals’ predictions were unfolding and Judgment Day was near.
During the 51-day standoff, the HRT made various attempts to force the Davidians out of
the compound. At the compound, they cut electricity, moved armored personal carriers close to
the buildings, and at night flooded the area with bright lights, loud music, and annoying sounds.
On April 19th, during an attempt to force the Davidians out using tear gas, the compound caught
on fire. Nine Davidians escaped the fire; 75 perished.
Conflicting Frames in the Standoff
Docherty (2001) argues that differences in worldview revealed a complex layering of
incompatible frames between the parties, which created the impasse in the negotiations. Each
party also had their own views of how the standoff was expected to unfold. This involved who
narrated the standoff, who the important players were, and what the measures of resolution to the
standoff were. Docherty draws on Weber’s (1964) classification of social action into four ideal
types (goal-rational action, value-rational action, affectual action, and traditionally oriented
action) to describe each party’s frame for how they expected the negotiations to proceed.
The negotiators in the standoff operated under a barricade situation in which surrounding
the subjects is standard procedure. In this framework negotiators answer to their commanders
and help the subjects realize that they have no way out. It is assumed that when the subjects


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