Encyclopedia > Negotiation

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Negotiation is the process whereby interested parties resolve disputes, agree upon courses of action, bargain for individual or collective advantage, and/or attempt to craft outcomes which serve their mutual interests.

Given this definition, one can see negotiation occuring in almost all walks of life, from parenting to the courtroom.

In the advocacy approach, a skilled negotiator usually serves as advocate for one party to the negotiation and attempts to obtain the most favorable outcomes possible for that party. In this process the negotiator attempts to determine the minimum outcome(s) the other party is (or parties are) willing to accept, then adjusts her demands accordingly. A "successful" negotiation in the advocacy approach is when the negotiator is able to obtain all or most of the outcomes his party desires, but without driving the other party to permanently break off negotiations.

Traditional negotiating is sometimes called win-lose because of the hard-ball style of the negotiators whose motive is to get as much as they can for their side.

In the Seventies, practitioners and researchers began to develop win-win approaches to negotiation. Perhaps the best known was articulated in the book Getting to YES by Harvard's Roger Fisher and Bill Ury. This approach, referred to as Principled Negotiation, is also sometimes called mutual gains bargaining. The mutual gains approach has been effectively applied in environmental situations (see Lawrence Susskind[?]) as well as Labor Relations where the parties (e.g. management and a labor union) frame the negotiation as problem solving.

Tactics There are many tactics used by skilled negotiators, including:

  • presenting demands
  • deadlines
  • good guy/bad guy
  • limited authority
  • caucusing
  • walking out
  • concession patterns

See also Mediation, Arbitration, Best alternative to a negotiated agreement, Collective bargaining, Conciliation, Contract, Dispute resolution, Game theory, Nash equilibrium, Prisoner's dilemma


  • Fisher & Ury. Getting to YES

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