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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 7 eventually realize this they give up (Fuselier, Van Zandt, & Lanceley, 1991; Pierson, 1980). The FBI’s view of Koresh was such that they questioned his mental stability and could not accept his claims to be the Lamb of God. To them, the standoff was to unfold according to their standard barricade procedures; they were the primary narrator in a story whose only players were themselves and the Davidians. This frame included a peaceful end to the standoff that could only come through the surrender of Koresh and his followers. It also included a bargaining framework of negotiating that viewed goal-oriented activities as the most rational. This directed them to focus on specific issues (e.g., getting the children out of the compound), and treat the compound, the people, and their beliefs as commodities open for bargaining. They dismissed their biblical descriptions of the world and their connections to the standoff as irrational and irrelevant to the goals of the negotiations. In contrast to the FBI’s goal-rational frame of the negotiations was an expected framework that viewed value-oriented activities as the most rational. That is, the intrinsic value they held in their religious beliefs guided their actions. Any goal they worked toward was determined not by realistic options but by their belief in the Bible and the Seven Seals. This value-rational frame was one that pitted God against the U.S. government. This meant Koresh as the Lamb and his followers against the BATF, the FBI, the U.S. military, and the U.S. government. The standoff was viewed as a crisis that was narrated by God and followed His divine plan. Resolution was the execution of God’s plan for the final days as shown in the Seven Seals. It involved choosing between devotion to God’s will, determined by a dedication to learning the Seven Seals, and relenting to the demands of the FBI, which meant giving in to the powers of Satan.

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 7
eventually realize this they give up (Fuselier, Van Zandt, & Lanceley, 1991; Pierson, 1980). The
FBI’s view of Koresh was such that they questioned his mental stability and could not accept his
claims to be the Lamb of God. To them, the standoff was to unfold according to their standard
barricade procedures; they were the primary narrator in a story whose only players were
themselves and the Davidians. This frame included a peaceful end to the standoff that could
only come through the surrender of Koresh and his followers. It also included a bargaining
framework of negotiating that viewed goal-oriented activities as the most rational. This directed
them to focus on specific issues (e.g., getting the children out of the compound), and treat the
compound, the people, and their beliefs as commodities open for bargaining. They dismissed
their biblical descriptions of the world and their connections to the standoff as irrational and
irrelevant to the goals of the negotiations.
In contrast to the FBI’s goal-rational frame of the negotiations was an expected
framework that viewed value-oriented activities as the most rational. That is, the intrinsic value
they held in their religious beliefs guided their actions. Any goal they worked toward was
determined not by realistic options but by their belief in the Bible and the Seven Seals. This
value-rational frame was one that pitted God against the U.S. government. This meant Koresh as
the Lamb and his followers against the BATF, the FBI, the U.S. military, and the U.S.
government. The standoff was viewed as a crisis that was narrated by God and followed His
divine plan. Resolution was the execution of God’s plan for the final days as shown in the Seven
Seals. It involved choosing between devotion to God’s will, determined by a dedication to
learning the Seven Seals, and relenting to the demands of the FBI, which meant giving in to the
powers of Satan.


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