Joshua Flax is a Principal at BanyanGlobal. A long-time US Federal Mediator, his expertise lies in developing negotiation processes that help parties holding divergent interests and positions reach joint agreements that endure.
After studying politics at Brandeis University, Josh began his career at a London-based start-up that organized policy conferences and trade shows in former Soviet economies during the mid-1990s. These markets both wanted and needed Western investment, but cross-cultural interactions were complex. As one major client in a former Eastern bloc country described the tension: “In our companies, you English people are nothing. I advise you never to forget this.”
That interchange raised the question: “Why were people with such aligned interests so out of sync?” Finding no satisfactory answer, Josh returned to America to do graduate work at Harvard Kennedy School, where he focused on negotiation and conflict resolution. He was later invited to be a guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member at the School, where he developed and taught new courses in the field.
During his career, Josh has mediated major conflicts in the private sector – e.g., large-scale strikes and lockouts. He was also deeply involved in cross-sector projects, such as mediating the multi-billion dollar public pension dispute in Rhode Island. Additionally, he led complex national passenger rail negotiations that involved, among others, Amtrak, multiple federal agencies, and over 20 state railroads.
Educated in the US, but born in Britain to South African parents, Josh’s exposure to different cultures prepared him well for negotiating between different traditions, norms, and expectations. Notwithstanding this background, and despite 20 years’ experience and training as a conflict resolution professional, Josh and his wife still struggle mightily to convince their five-year-old daughter that sometimes good negotiations means letting her parents have their way.