Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Chase Clow, PhD


The failed attempt to rescue hostages during the 1972 Olympics in Munich Germany led to the unnecessary and terrible loss of lives of both hostages and captors. Ever since then, great efforts have been undertaken by law enforcement professionals and researchers to develop clear protocols to help insure the safety of all involved parties. Negotiations, one tactic among several, represents a non-violent alternative to armed assault that can be used to obtain the safe release of hostages and the capture of unharmed hostage takers. Drawing on my forty year career experience in California Corrections, this paper argues for the power of dialogue as an essential tool for the peaceful resolution of a crisis involving people, including hostage situations. Examining six notorious case studies of hostage situations from 1972 to the present, this work highlights a number of negotiation strategies. These six events exemplify both peaceful and tragic outcomes, making it clear that all too often the outcome corresponds directly to how effectively conflict-resolution and negotiation tactics are employed. Through analysis and critique of these case studies, this work makes evident that the attitude of the team leadership, as well as the amount of cooperation and coordination between the negotiation team and the assault team, proves critical to the peaceful resolution of a hostage situation and to the saving of lives.