¶ … forum of world leaders converging at the next World Economic Forum or simply a teenaged brother and sister trying to persuade the other to take out the garbage for the night, negotiation involves its participants wielding tools of power in order to further their cause. Studying the uses of power in negotiation is tantamount to exploring the psychological ballet played out by the negotiators as they attempt to prevail over their counterpart(s).
Before exploring the applications of power in negotiation, it is important to define the boundaries of this study. Negotiation can simply be defined as an "arrangement of terms with others." (Barnhart & Barnhart, 1989, 1390) Alternatively, negotiation between two people can be likened to dancing. The negotiators meet and 'step on each other's toes' while each strives to extort information and apply influence over the other. Like individual dancers who learn to modify their personal styles to complement their partner, individual negotiators also begin responding to each other's proposals to generate a focus. Negotiation, like dance, also progresses through stages to a climax -- a negotiated solution. And like dancers whose steps and movements are influenced by their culture, negotiators behaviours are also influenced by culture, especially the regularity with which negotiators employ influence and information. (Adair, Okumera & Brett, 2001, 371). These series of behaviour expose negotiators' focus or imply their campaign to prompt a focus. Negotiation progressions -- my conduct and your reaction -- are built of two fundamentals: negotiators' behaviours and the strategies driving those behaviours. Negotiation behaviour is what the negotiators articulate. Negotiators' strategies are the rationale driving what they articulate. (Adair & Brett, 2001, 4) It is these strategies that drive the uses of power in negotiation.
The ultimate goal in negotiation is to achieve one's objectives while committing to as little compromise as is possible. The best-case scenario would entail achieving one's objectives without compromise. However, when two people come together to negotiate there is an implied willingness to compromise in order to reach a consensual resolution, subject to what each party is willing to give up in return for realising their own goals. The degree of power each party holds and brings to the negotiating table is important in securing what they must give up in order to acquire. Power can be defined as "having to do with the use or exertion of strength or force over others." (Barnhart & Barnhart, 1989, 1632) In order to achieve one's objectives the power each negotiator can wield is in direct relation to what information or resources they possess concerning their own situation. This is evidenced through knowing their own platform comprehensively in order to rule out or hide any weaknesses, and, more importantly, the situation of their counterparts so as to be able to anticipate their next move or be aware of their weaknesses. Another important factor that impacts on the degree of power and its uses is reputation, their own social image as well as that of their counterparts.
Exploring these 3 elements individually allows one to witness how the power derived from the possession of these elements is exercised over the counterpart. In the case of possessing information, particularly in the case of there being an inequitable balance of it between the negotiators, the power derived from information can be wielded in different ways. A recent study associated the two approaches of information exchange and influence efforts with two behaviours. Information about predilections and priorities, the foundation of integrative agreements can be shared frankly by talking about priorities or circuitously by surmising priorities from offers and proposals. Relationship development can also be informational, because disclosing information develops trust, but it can also concentrate on whom is more powerful. Likewise, labouring on the negotiation task...
(Adair and Brett, 2001, 4-5)
From the beginning, negotiators are normally aware of what they want and assume the other party wants the same (Thompson, 2001, 2). Given this frame of mind, it appears that negotiators will start by employing influence to establish themselves in comparison with their counterpart(s). Previous research showing strong application of posturing in the first half of negotiation (Simons, 1993, 139) and the countering of rights and power sequences in the first quarter of negotiation (Lyrtle, Brett & Shapiro, 1999, 31) is in line with this belief. There is a belief that negotiators will counter affective influence in the first quarter of the negotiation as they jockey for a power position in the negotiation. However this importance of affective influence is believed to diminish over time with later influence efforts more probable-based logic than affective influence. This belief founded in part on the negotiators' tendency to start by investigating if their counterpart(s) will surrender to them what they wish for. When negotiators encounter a counterplay to their affective conduct they discover that their power status is challenged and because each has a dissimilar discernment of his/her influence, affective appeals are not likely to generate an agreement. (Adair and Brett, 2001, 7)
Series of affective influence and priority information are suggestive of posturing and positioning when negotiations are attempting to ascertain the other's readiness to cooperate or wish to challenge. A negotiator offering priority information and his/her counterpart responding with a convincing argument is a powerful message that conveys "I do not want to cooperate. I wish to challenge you." Similarly, a negotiator employing influence and his/her counterpart reacting by contributing information is a powerful message that conveys "I am prepared to risk sharing information to instigate some collaboration with you." (Adair and Brett, 2001, 8)
The second element under consideration in terms of wielding power in negotiations concerns reputation. Reputations are socially created tags that offer depictions that organise our impressions of the other person. (Tinsley and Sullivan, 2001, 2) Negotiators' reputations precede their exchanges. Negotiators appear to contemplate their counterpart's reputation in a logical endeavour to lessen the ambiguity of the other person and the upcoming discussion. Negotiators also seem to reflect on their own reputations as well, in that they distinguish that their previous conduct can have upcoming consequences. Earlier research has discovered, for example, that people who are inclined to work together in the future are likely to be more accommodating (Ben-Yoav and Pruitt, 1984, 282) and not as manipulative (Marlowe, Gergen and Doob, 1966, 206) than people who anticipate no further dealings with each other.
Reputations provide information about the other person; information that is founded on either previous social relations or reliable information from the negotiator's social network. (Tinsley and Sullivan, 2001, 3) Reputation offers a negotiator with information about the other person's mental and emotional disposition which helps the negotiator foresee the other person's actions and deduce their core intent (Vallacher and Wegner, 1989, 660). Because negotiations are denoted by ambiguity, this information can be rather helpful to negotiators. Negotiation is a means by which people try to resolve what each shall proffer and receive, or execute and accept in a deal between them (Rubin and Brown, 1975, 2). Although negotiators characteristically attempt to capitalise on their ultimate results, the means by which ultimate results are capitalised on is varied motivation in nature, meaning that each negotiator is trying to both generate value (integrate) and demand value (distribute) (Lax and Sebenius, 1986, 5). Ambiguity thrives in that a negotiator uncommonly knows for certain what the other person cares about, what the other person's other options might be, and thus whether the other person's conduct is an endeavour to generate value or demand value (Tinsley and Sullivan, 2001, 5). Reputations can also legitimise posturing in order to intimidate or fool a negotiator's counterpart. Reputation can determine to what degree of power a negotiator can wield at the negotiating table, and this power is exercised through intimidation or duplicity.
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