This article examines how external events grounded in a negotiation’s relevant environment (i.e., negotiation context) influence negotiation process and outcome. Multilateral, regional and bilateral environments are examined through linkage theory to gain understanding about the impact of external events or context on negotiation process and outcome. Linkages between a negotiation and its context are examined through five trade negotiations: the WTO Doha round (multilateral-global); the Free Trade Area of the Americas (multilateral-regional); EU‐Mercosur (bilateral-regional); EU‐Chile (bilateral); and US‐Chile (bilateral). In addition to developing greater understanding about the strategic relationship between a negotiation and its context this article establishes a theoretic framework that defines the known universe of linkage dynamics. The impact of multilateral environments on the regional negotiation process and outcome is of particular interest, as is the strategic use of bilateral environments in seeking to achieve multilateral geopolitical ends.