Distributive Bargaining and Integrative Negotiation

Published: 2021-09-01 18:00:14
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Despite the significance of negotiations as a means to manage conflict as well as relationships (Lewicki et al. 2015), some people disdain negotiations because they view the process as one that compromises morality and values (Benjamin 1998) while others may avoid confrontations altogether because of a prevailing perception that conflicts are fundamentally bad (Bush and Folger 2005). Positions such as these may have been informed by unpleasant experiences with unyielding distributive bargainers but such positions are not and should not be the dominant approach or attitude toward how one negotiates differences.
By choosing not to actively negotiate, individuals are implicitly negotiating using the Dual Concerns Model’s avoidance style (Kilmann and Thomas 1977). By choosing avoidance, individuals are at best maintaining the status quo (or worse, prolonging or aggravating the situation). While avoidance may sometimes be the best or only option, it certainly leaves unexamined and unclaimed value (both tangible and intangible outcomes) at the bargaining table. In other words, the avoidance style oftentimes concedes tangibles and intangibles unnecessarily. Creating and claiming maximum value do not necessarily compromise one’s morals or values. The pertinent point is how and to what end does one negotiate. If negotiations revolve around relationships, personal values must have a seat at the (bargaining) table because personal values frame how individuals manage their relationships and conflicts (Bush and Folger 2005; Lewicki et al. 2015).Therefore, a theory-based conflict management model that draws upon personal values will advance negotiation theory and practice. Emotions are a significant element for consideration in every negotiation. Neurologists have underscored the important relationship between emotions and moral decision-making, giving management scholars a vital insight into the irrational and nonlinear process of human decision-making. However, prevailing negotiation theories and models do not thoroughly explore how personal values affect emotions’ effect on negotiations. Furthermore, emotions are distinct from feelings. On the one hand, emotions arise from external stimuli for instance, one may experience pain upon hearing that her investments have unexpectedly depreciated. On the other hand, feelings refer to “mental experiences of body states” for example, one may also experience pain but this time due to physical fatigue.
Both emotions and feelings can trigger pain, but emotions come from extrinsic factors whereas feelings come from intrinsic physical factors pertaining to the individual. This distinction implies that feelings have longer-term effects than emotions. Unlike Fisher and Ury’s model, VBM is concerned about feelings and not emotions because one’s feelings about a negotiation are self-triggered while emotions require an other-triggered stimulus. Everyone has to live with the consequences of any negotiation, experiencing feelings such as the “buyer’s remorse” or the “winner’s curse,” especially since the stimuli (potentially arising from personal values) that can evoke feelings are more readily present than stimuli that evoke emotions. Because negotiators’ feelings affect their moral judgment and their assessment of the negotiation process and outcome, feelings embody an important facet of negotiations research distinct from emotions that require greater scholarly attention.
Toward that end, the academic distinction between distributive bargaining and integrative negotiation does not reflect how this communicative practice unfolds in real life. Indeed, many conflicting goals appear mutually exclusive at first instance and mislead negotiators into prematurely categorizing a situation as distributive or integrative. Thus, with the objective of managing conflicts from a values-based perspective, values-based negotiation model (VBM) promotes negotiations as a prosocial discourse. The development of VBM builds upon Martin Buber’s notions of I-It and I-Thou. Buber’s notion of existentialism makes religion practical because the cognition of one’s existence informs how one treats others.

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