Negotiation is a voluntary decision making process where two or more parties or groups come together to talk with one another in an attempt to reach an agreement on a disputed issue, opposing interests or future matters. Littlejohn and Domenici (2007) assert, “Negotiation can be formal or informal; it can occur in private or public; it can be direct or direct or conducted through a representative such as attorneys” (p. 18). Negotiation is a multifaceted process which functions to aid parties in reaching decisions on how to divide limited resources, to resolve problems between conflicting parties or to generate new solutions and satisfy joint interests. (Cope, 2014; Lewicki, Barry, & Saunders, 2011, p. 2-3).
Distributive and Integrative Bargaining
There are two primary methods of negotiation: distributive and integrative bargaining. Interpretive approaches require parties to identity interests, communicate effectively, and understand the issues and interests of the other party and to work through newly generated options to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Whereas distributive bargaining is often characterized by aggressive and underhanded bargaining tactics employed by one party to gain an advantage over the other party.
Distributive bargaining, also referred to as competitive or win-lose bargaining, typically yields limited outcomes for participants. According to Cope (2014), “The parties can merely “claim value” or divide a fixed “pie.” Integrative bargaining, or interest-based negotiation, attempts to expand the pie and address the needs and interests each party equally. While Interest- based negotiation, is the preferred method, distributive bargaining can be more effectual when th...
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... ideas, and challenging the ideas of others while seeing creative solutions and working together to attain mutually beneficial outcomes (Littlejohn & Domenici, 2007, p. 180).
Depending on the severity of the situation, both approached have merit and have potential to yield effective results. Using both approaches in combination is also a viable option. Electing a leader to make immediate decisions under time constraints while simultaneously engaging in a collaborative approach to acknowledge the shared problems that are in need of joint efforts to solve them efficiently. By tacking the situation using a mixture of tactics, the immediacy and heightened emotional environment of the crisis is addressed yet, by employing negotiation it allows the negotiators to “go below the line” to discover and meet the needs and interests of all parties (Cope, 20014).
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