Summary of "Negotiation Theory and Practice"

Summary of

Negotiation Theory and Practice

By J. William Breslin and Jeffrey Rubin

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Negotiation Theory and Practice, J. William Breslin and Jeffrey Rubin, (eds.), (Cambridge, MA: Program on Negotiation Books, 1991) 457 pp.

Negotiation Theory and Practice offers a resource text for students of negotiation, either professional or lay. This text is published in association with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and is designed to complement that program's Curriculum for Negotiation and Conflict Management.

Negotiation Theory and Practice will be of interest to those who seek a better understanding of the theory and practice of negotiation. This work is divided into nine topic sections. Each section addresses its topic via a set of edited articles from notable authors in the field.

Section One discusses the nature of conflict and negotiation. Jeffrey Rubin distinguishes between conflict resolution and conflict settlement, and argues that the appropriate goal of mediation is settlement. Albie Davis presents an overview of early twentieth century author Mary Parker Follett, who was one of the founders of organizational behavior studies. Dean Pruitt extends Follett's work and presents four basic strategic choices available to negotiator: inaction, yielding, contending or problem-solving. William Ury and Richard Smoke discuss negotiation under crisis conditions.

Section Two discusses the preparatory work which should take place prior to undertaking negotiation. Harold Saunders describes obstacles which make it difficult for negotiation to occur at all, and describes ways of avoiding those obstacles. Roger Fisher analyses sources of difficulty for internal negotiations. Rubin and Frank Sander discusses the benefits and drawbacks of direct versus agent mediated negotiation. Finally, Howard Raiffa outlines an approach to evaluating conflicts for the suitability and likely outcome of negotiation.

Section Three focuses on assessing participants' power and their alternatives to negotiation. David Lax and James Sebenius argue that a party's power at a negotiating table is primarily determined by their available alternatives to negotiation. William McCarthy offers a critique of the classic text, Getting to Yes. Roger Fisher responds to that critique by further elaborating his theory of power in negotiation. Sander, Stephen Goldberg and Eric Green argue that the timely use of apology can help retain the offended party at the negotiating table, and so sustain negotiations.

Section Four explores the factors which lead to effective negotiation. I. Zartman offers an overview of five approaches to the analysis of negotiation. Lax and Sebenius argue for the helpfulness of focusing on interests rather than positions. They explore exceptions to this rule, and suggest ways to assess interests. Jeswald Salacuse explores the advantages and disadvantages to the "single negotiating text" approach. Janos Nyerges presents his "ten commandments for a negotiator" based on his own negotiating experience.

Section Five discusses the impact of context on negotiations. Max Bazerman describes various nonrational judgments which enter into and complicate the negotiation setting. Robert McKersie explores the process of conflict escalation via the case of Eastern Airlines battle with the Machinists Union. Thomas Schelling presents a regimen of self-improvement aimed at helping the negotiator overcome ineffective negotiating styles. Louis Kreisberg considers the appropriate timing and initiation of de-escalation moves.

Section Six explores the ways in which individual negotiators may differ in culture, race, gender, and style. Robert Janosik describes four different approaches to analyzing the links between culture and negotiating style. Breslin explore the impact of cultural stereotypes on the negotiation process. Salacuse offers a "Beginner's Guide to International Business Negotiation." Deborah Kolb and Gloria Coolidge contrast the styles of women negotiators both among themselves and to their male colleagues. Roderick Gilkey and Leonard Greenhalgh assess the effects of personality differences on the negotiation process.

Section Seven discusses follow-up and implementation. Ury, Brett and Goldberg describes six features of an effective dispute resolution system. Kolb and Silbey offer a critique of that design, and suggest that some conflict should not be managed through such dispute resolution systems. Subsequent essays discuss ways to improve negotiated agreements. Raiffa describes "post-settlement settlements;" having reached a mutually satisfactory settlement, that settlement is then "embellished" by a third party to further maximize the parties benefit. Roth discusses the instances for which post-settlement settlements may be most appropriate. Bazerman, Lee Russ and Elaine Yakura suggest that disputants may themselves manage the post-settlement embellishment, without a third party's assistance. Salacuse concludes with a discussion of three forms of renegotiation in international business negotiations.

Section Eight describes multilateral negotiations. Saadia Touval describes issues which are likely to arise before, during and after multilateral negotiations, emphasizing the importance of pre-negotiation preparations. Charles Heckscher argues that contemporary labor-management relations may be better understood on a multilateral model. Victor Kremenyuk discusses the increasingly complex interdependence in international relations. Klaus Aurisch presents a detailed description of the preparations for an international conference.

Section Nine discusses the use of third party intervention in conflict mediation. Lawrence Susskind and Connie Ozawa summarize three cases of mediation in the public sector, and outline criteria for successful third party mediation. William Smith argues that some mediator bias is unavoidable, and discusses ways of using bias to increase the chances of reaching a settlement. Christopher Honeyman builds on the preceding essay and explores the ethical implications of mediator bias. Mary Rowe concludes this text with a discussion of the role of the ombuds.

Negotiation Theory and Practice offers an excellent introduction to both theoretic and practical issues in negotiation. These essays include excerpts from foundational texts, and more contemporary responses.