Summary of "Negotiation"

Summary of


By Roy J. Lewicki, David M. Saunders, and John W. Minton

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Negotiation, 3rd edition, Roy J. Lewicki, David M. Saunders, and John W. Minton, (Boston: Irwin McGraw-Hill, 1999).

Readers will find this textbook on negotiations to be broadly accessible and very informative. The third edition has been substantially updated and revised to reflect current negotiations research. Thirteen chapters are presented in four parts. The first chapters focus on the basic elements of conflict and negotiation. Part Two examines the processes of communication, persuasion, and ethical judgment. Part Three explores external influences on negotiations, including the social context, coalition or group participation, individual personality differences, and cultural factors. The final chapters discuss ways for parties and third-parties to address breakdowns in the negotiation process. The text includes a bibliography and a comprehensive index.

Negotiation Basics

The negotiation situation is characterized by two or more interdependent parties who have a conflict of interest, and who choose to address that conflict by striving to reach an agreement through a process of mutual adjustment of each party's demands and concessions. Conflicts may arise at different levels, from within an individual to between groups or nations. Parties may address conflict by avoidance, by yielding to or accommodating the other, by competing to dominate the other, by compromising to split gains and losses, or by collaborative problem-solving to reach maximally beneficial mutual agreements. When managed appropriately, conflict can be constructive.

Pre-negotiation planning is the key to successful negotiations. Before opening negotiations, parties need to frame the problem at hand, define their goals, select a negotiating strategy, and develop a plan for implementing that strategy. Specific planning steps include defining and prioritizing the issues and interests, developing supporting arguments, analyzing the other party, assessing the other side's priorities, and setting targets and limits, How parties frame (understand, view or define) the conflict has a significant impact on what goals they adopt, and on the possibility of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome. Understanding the phases that negotiation processes typically go through will help negotiators plan more effectively.

Generally, negotiations come in two forms. In distributive (win-lose, competitive) bargaining, each party tries to secure the most benefit for themselves, without regard for the other side's outcome. In integrative (win-win, collaborative) bargaining, both parties work together to achieve maximum mutual gains. Distributive bargaining is more appropriate when resources are fixed and the parties' interests are directly opposed. Distributive negotiations are defined by each party's opening, resistance and target points, that is, their initial offers, their lowest acceptable bid, and their desired bid. Each party's goal is to close a deal as near to the other's resistance point as possible. Distributive negotiation strategies seek to conceal the party's resistance point, uncover the other side's resistance point, or to influence their views of what is possible.

Integrative negotiation is possible when the parties share concern for each other's positive outcome. The presence of shared goals, trust, and clear communication between the parties will facilitate effective integrative negotiation. Often, seemingly distributive situations may be reframed to permit integrative solutions. To be successful, integrative negotiators must focus on their commonalties and engage in a free flow of information. They must understand each other's interests and needs, and must seek solutions which satisfy both sides.


Communication is central to the negotiation process. Miscommunication can arise from mistakes in formulating a message, from errors in transmission or from misinterpretation by the receiver. The likelihood of communication errors increases when parties are in conflict or dislike each other. Parties are also prone to mistakes in perception. Misperceptions arise from stereotyping, projection, and selective perception. The parties conflict frame also shapes their perceptions. Negotiators in conflict regularly make a common set of cognitive errors. The text identifies eleven: "irrational escalation of commitment, mythical fixed-pie beliefs, anchoring and adjustment, framing, availability of information, the winner's curse, overconfidence, the law of small numbers, self-serving biases, ignoring other's cognitions, and reactive devaluation."(p. 174) These errors can be addressed by a variety of techniques including the use of clarifying questions, role reversal and reframing.

Leverage refers to the use of power to gain a temporary advantage over the other party. Power in negotiations typically comes from having information and expertise, from having control over resources, or from one's position within an organization. Leverage tools fall into four categories: ways of enhancing the effectiveness of messages, ways of enhancing the sender's credibility or attractiveness, ways that receivers can elicit or resist messages, and ways of arranging the larger context to reinforce one's messages. The text describes a number of specific techniques for exercising leverage.

Sometimes negotiators may resort to ethically questionable tactics. Negotiators resort to unethical tactics in order to gain a power advantage. Research has shown the women, older people, more experienced negotiators, and people with training in the liberal arts or ethics are less predisposed to use questionably ethical tactics. Research has also found that negotiators are more likely to use unethical tactics in the context of short term or hostile relationships, when they are the more powerful party ("power corrupts"), when they are representing others, or when pressured by organizational or cultural norms. When confronted with another's unethical behavior, negotiators may ignore it, respond in kind, point out the unethical behavior, or try to discuss the other's reasons for resorting to unethical tactics. The authors conclude that "negotiators frequently overlook the fact that, although unethical or expedient tactics may get them what they want in the short run, these same tactics typically lead to diminished effectiveness in the long run."(p. 263)


The nature of the parties' relationship affects their negotiations, as does the presence of an audience. When a dispute arises in an existing relationship, negotiators must consider the impact of negotiations on the future of the relationship. Managing negotiations within an existing relationship requires building trust, fostering positive emotions, and attending to issues of justice and fairness. An audience may consist of team members, constituents or by-standers. The presence of an audience pressures negotiators to appear tough and unyielding. Negotiating partners pressure each other to be flexible and conciliatory. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to manage this tension.

Multiparty negotiations may involve multiple parties each pursuing their own ends, or may be aimed at reaching a group consensus. In interest-based multiparty negotiations, parties usually form various coalitions to increase their power. Coalitions may dissolve and reform over the course of negotiations. The authors offer advice on building coalitions, and outline basic coalition behavioral dynamics. Consensus-oriented negotiations are much more complex that two-party negotiations. Thorough pre-negotiation planning is crucial. The multiparty negotiation process usually involves group discussions, bilateral negotiations and coalition building. The text describes key ways for the chairperson to manage negotiations.

People's personality traits also affect negotiations, although researchers have found it difficult to isolate specific traits and effects. The five basic approaches to conflict (avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromising or collaborating) may also represent individual's predispositions toward dealing with conflict. Researchers have investigated the effect of Machiavellian attitudes on negotiation behavior, as well as the impact of interpersonal trust, perspective-taking ability, perceived self-efficacy, and self-monitoring. Much recent research has been devoted to the issue of gender in negotiation. There is substantial evidence that men and women are treated differently in negotiations, to women's detriment. Investigations regarding differences in negotiation style have yielded contradictory results; some indicate gender differences, some show none.

The effect of cultural differences on negotiation has also been subject to much recent research. Negotiators from different cultures may differ in their acceptance of egalitarian or inegalitarian power distributions, their tendency toward collectivism or individualism, the extent to which they hold stereotypically masculine or feminine values, and in their tolerance for uncertainty. Cultural factors can influence the parties definition of negotiation, their selection of negotiators, the choice of negotiation protocol and timing, their willingness to take risks, and the form that any settlement takes. The authors describe eight strategies negotiators may choose from to manage cultural differences, depending their level of familiarity with the other culture.

Managing Negotiation Difficulties

Negotiations may breakdown or stalemate for a number of reasons. The final chapters describe some common sources of impasse, and offer techniques for restarting stalled negotiations. Negotiations may reach an impasse when conflicts become entrenched in hostility, or when the number of issues increases. Integrative negotiations may stall if parties are unable to invent mutually beneficial options Negotiations can be blocked when one party is negotiating integratively, and the other is bargaining distributively. Parties in entrenched conflicts should seek to enhance their communication, reduce tensions, control the size and number of issues, sweeten available offers, and focus on identifying common ground. Integrative negotiators must guard against people's tendency to repress criticism and dissent when under the pressure of a deadline, or for the sake of maintaining their relationship. The authors also offer step-by-step strategies that one party can use to handle difficult or contentious opponents, and draw them around to more productive, integrative negotiating behavior.

Sometimes stalled negotiations may benefit from the intervention of a third-party. Arbitrators hear each side's positions and arguments and then decide on the appropriate outcome. The advantage of arbitration is a speedy and a clear-cut resolution. The drawbacks are that its availability reduces the parties' willingness to do the hard work of negotiation, and that parties are less committed to imposed settlements. Mediators assist the parties in conducting their negotiations. Mediators may make substantive contributions to the process, but have no formal power over the outcome. Mediation is a voluntary process. Mediator styles vary widely. Research shows that mediation is most effective in moderate conflicts, when negotiators are inexperienced, or when negotiations have reached a hurting stalemate. Process consultants focus more exclusively on improving the parties' communication and conflict management skills. Organizations are increasingly implementing dispute resolution systems, that is, systems of established procedures for handling disputes that arise between employees, customers, or members. Such systems usually draw on alternative dispute resolution approaches to constructively managing conflict.