Negotiation is the process of conferring with others to
reach an agreement. Bargaining occurs when there is a
dispute over the terms involved. A straightforward allocation
of adequate resources would involve negotiation,
but if there is a shortage of time, money, or materials,
then the parties will bargain over the exact distribution
to promote their own bestinterests. Collective bargaining
Negotiation and Bargaining———1493
is a structured process where a group such as a union
will negotiate with an employer as a single unit about
terms of their employment contract.
The basic conditions for negotiation are that the
parties are voluntary participants and there is a positive
bargaining zone. Thus, there is no negotiation in
mugging at gunpoint orwhen groceries are offered
at a fixed price in the store and there are sufficient
paying customers that the storekeeper has no incentive
to lower the price. A bargaining zone is a range of
exchange where one side is willing to offer and the
other is willing to accept. If neither side is willing to
extend the zone then there is no room for meaningful
There are several othernecessary elements for
negotiations to be successful. Initially, the parties
involved must have the power to settle. Second, all
the parties involved need to be willing to take part in
the negotiation. If critical parties are absent or if one
party is not prepared to bargain in good faith, then
there is little hope for a workable agreement.
Moreover, the parties need to be psychologicallyprepared to negotiate; if there is high emotion, inadequate
information, or failure to formulate a negotiation
strategy, then the parties’ negotiations are
unlikely to be productive.
The parties must in some way be mutually dependent
and have the ability to influence each other. Such
influence can be seen as having something the other
party desires or having the means to increase benefitsfor the other side (or conversely the ability to inflict
distress). A negotiator needs some form of leverage
to provide an incentive to the other side to alter their
behavior. Where the power is completely disproportionate,
meaningful negotiation with the other party is
also unlikely to occur. Parties must also have some
sense that delay will result in some adverse action. If
only oneside is under great time pressure, then the
party with time to spare is likely to use that leverage
to extract greater substantive gains from the party that
is looking for a quick solution. The Paris peace talks
to terminate the Vietnam War illustrate this: The
Vietcong were able to procrastinate to the point where
the Americans made substantive concessions to hasten
the negotiation. On amore mundane level, the householder
with leaking pipes needs a repair urgently and
thus will be in no position to bargain with an available
If there is a better deal available elsewhere or the
psychological stress is not worth the potential benefits,
then people will break negotiations. Contemporary
negotiation theorists often refer to the point at which
someone will walk away bysaying that any deal must
improve on a party’s “best alternative to a negotiated
Finally, participants must feel that there are settlement
options available that will meet their needs. In
some cases, one party will not want to create a precedent
of compromise or will want to establish a principle,
even at the risk of losing the case entirely. Thus,
people charged with a criminaloffense will often be
unwilling to make a plea bargain in order that they can
have a public hearing that they believe will lead to
complete exoneration. Similarly, tort cases where one
party is looking for definitive vindication may not be
suitable for negotiation.
Types of Negotiation
In very broad terms, we can classify negotiation as
belonging to either of two schools: the so-called...
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