Symposium Book Club – Summary of Negotiation Frameworks

This is part of the “virtual book club” discussing readings for the symposium at the University of Missouri on October 7:  Moving Negotiation Theory from the Tower of Babel Toward a World of Mutual Understanding.

This is the last post in the book club series, at least for now.  It is a compilation of a variety of frameworks that people have used to think about negotiation and includes links to posts that describe the frameworks in more detail.  Of course, it is not an exhaustive set of such frameworks, but it summarizes some of the main sets of concepts discussed in our book club.

In my conversation with Rishi Batra, I compared these frameworks with pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  I questioned whether we could develop a single “unified field theory” of negotiation but suggested that we might combine them to make a number of pictures.  So as you review them, consider how they might fit together to make one or more meaningful conceptions of negotiation.

General Framework of Negotiation Issues

In my chapter, Taming the Jungle of Negotiation Theories, in Chris Honeyman’s and Andrea Schneider’s forthcoming Negotiation Desk Reference, I reviewed general negotiation texts in various disciplines and synthesized the following general framework, which serves as a table of contents for the chapter.

In General

  • Definition of Negotiation
  • Disputes, Transactions, and Decision Making
  • Complexity, Uncertainty, and Risk
  • Theoretical Perspectives

Negotiation Structure and Process

  • Motivations, Goals, and Interests
  • Negotiation Models
  • Alternatives to Negotiated Agreement and Bargaining Zone
  • Criteria of Success
  • Stages of Negotiation
  • Negotiation Strategy and Planning
  • Information Bargaining
  • Escalation, Impasse, and Failure to Agree
  • Overcoming Barriers to Agreement
  • Legal and Ethical Constraints

Individual Negotiators

  • Individual Qualities and Skills
  • Identity
  • Perception, Cognition, and Emotion

Negotiation Relationships

  • In General
  • Reputations
  • Agents, Teams, and Leadership
  • Multiple Parties and Coalitions
  • Negotiation Audiences

Negotiation Interactions

  • Communication Modes
  • Communication Units and Sequences
  • Trust
  • Fairness and Justice
  • Power and Influence

Models of Negotiation

Getting to Yes distinguishes interest-based and positional negotiation, advocating an interest-based method in which negotiators (1) separate the people from the problem, (2) focus on interests, not positions, (3) invent options for mutual gain, and (4) insist on using objective criteria.  This is somewhat similar to Walton and McKersie’s distinction between distributive and integrative models, described below.

I described a third model, which I refer to generically as “norm-based negotiation” or, in the legal context, “ordinary legal negotiation.”  In this model, the lawyers begin their analysis based on likely results in negotiation or trial.  Of course, both sides typically shade their positions in self-serving ways, but the focus is on normal outcomes rather than exchange of extreme offers or discussion of interests.  Even so, I argue that the system of coherent models of negotiation is problematic and that it is better to unbundle variables in the models as described below.

Walton and McKersie’s Models or Subprocesses

Walton and McKersie’s A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations describes four “subprocesses” or “models” of negotiation:  distributive bargaining, integrative bargaining, “attitudinal structuring” (efforts at persuasion) and intraorganizational bargaining.  They distinguish distributive and integrative bargaining based on whether the parties’ goals are in basic conflict, i.e., whether or not an issue involves a zero-sum division of limited resources.

As described in the same post, James Sebenius argues that some of the language in the book and common “folklore” regarding the terms “distributive” and “integrative” leads to some common confusions.  He states that issues such as the division of money are not inherently distributive or integrative.  Rather, negotiators’ behavior may fit into one or the other categories.  Thus, issues that are supposedly distributive can be resolved with joint gain through tactics such as linkage to other issues.  Sebenius advocates, instead, the terms “creating value” and “claiming value.”

Lande’s Framework Variables in Lieu of Negotiation Models

I suggest a general framework to analyze negotiation including the following variables: (1) the degree of concern, if any, negotiators have for the other side, (2) the communication process used in trying to reach agreement, (3) the extent that negotiators create value in the negotiation, (4) the negotiators’ tone, (5) the use of power, and (6) the source of norms that negotiators use.  These variables are likely to be causal factors affecting particular negotiation goals such as efficiency and satisfaction of parties’ interests.

Honeyman and Schneider “Canon of Negotiation”

Chris Honeyman and Andrea Schneider described the following “canon of negotiation” based on a review of syllabi in various disciplines.

  1. The idea of personal style, strategy or personality, including individual dispositions to be competitive or cooperative, or favoring adversarial vs. principled, integrative, problem-solving procedures in negotiation.
  1. The use of communication skills—both effective presenting and listening.
  1. The concepts of integrative vs. distributive negotiation.
  1. The concept of a ‘bargaining zone’ between the parties, including the concepts of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and reservation (walkaway) prices.
  1. The use of brainstorming and option creation.
  1. The importance of preparation.

Roy Lewicki suggested possibly adding the following two elements: (1) the context in which negotiation is being taught, and (2) the experience and sophistication of the negotiation parties.

Dual Concerns Model / Thomas-Kilmann Instrument

The “dual concerns” model analyzes negotiation based on the combination of negotiators’ concern for their own outcomes and concern for their counterparts’ outcomes. Negotiators use a “contending” strategy when they are highly concerned about their own outcomes and have little concern about counterparts’ outcomes. Conversely, they use a “yielding” strategy when they have little concern for their own outcomes and high concern for counterparts’ outcomes. They use a “problem-solving” strategy when they are concerned both about their own and counterparts’ outcomes. There is “inaction,” or no real negotiation, when they are unconcerned about either party’s outcomes.

The Thomas-Kilmann instrument is a variation using the dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness.  This yields five orientations: competing (high assertive, low cooperation), accommodating (low assertive, high cooperation), avoiding (low assertive, low cooperation), compromising (medium assertive, medium cooperation), and collaborating (high assertive, high cooperation).

Beyond Winning’s Three Tensions

In Beyond Winning, Mnookin et al. do not suggest that individuals have a general orientation but rather describe the following three tensions in negotiation, between (1) creating and distributing value, (2) empathy and assertiveness, and (3) principals and agents.  They argue that negotiators can manage these tensions but they cannot make them disappear.

Raiffa’s Organizing Questions

Howard Raiffa suggests the following “organizing questions” to analyze:

  • are there more than two parties?
  • are the parties monolithic?
  • is the game repetitive?
  • are there linkage effects?
  • is there more than one issue?
  • is agreement required?
  • is ratification required?
  • are threats possible?
  • are there time constraints or time-related costs?
  • are the contracts binding?
  • are the negotiations private or public?
  • what are the group norms?
  • is third-party intervention possible?

Decision-Making Variables

Summarizing a decision-making perspective, Sanda Kaufman suggests that people contemplating a decision in negotiation should take into account four variables: (1) preferences, (2) perceived alternatives, (3) perceived likelihoods (e.g., that certain actions will yield certain results, or that other parties will follow through on agreements – anything that is a guess at decision time), and (4) perceived states of the world (stuff that we don’t control but that will affect our choices in the moment, such as political events or the economic situation).

Menkel-Meadow’s Criteria for Evaluating Approaches to Negotiation

Carrie Menkel-Meadow suggests the following criteria for evaluating approaches to negotiation, including whether: (1) the solution reflects the client’s full set of “real” needs, goals, and objectives, (2) it reflects the other party’s full set of “real” needs, goals, and objectives, (3) it promotes the client’s desired relationship with the other party, (4) the parties have explored all possible positive-sum solutions, (5) the transaction costs are as low as possible relative to the desirability of the result, (6) the solution is practically achievable and the parties are committed to it, (7) the process is consistent with the client’s desire to participate in and affect the negotiation, and (8) the solution is fair or just.

Difficult Conversations’s Three Conversations

Difficult Conversations suggests that when people have difficult conversations, they may have three separate conversations, about (1) what happened, (2) feelings, and (3) identity.

Schneider’s Key Negotiation Skills

Andrea Schneider suggests that negotiation teachers should focus on teaching the following skills: assertiveness, empathy, flexibility, social intuition, and ethicality.

Patton’s Elements of Negotiation

Bruce Patton lists “seven elements” of negotiation – BATNA, interests, options, legitimacy, commitments, relationship, and communication – which form a basic framework for understanding every negotiation.

Fisher and Shapiro’s Core Concerns

In Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate (2005), Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro identify the following five core emotional concerns in negotiation:  appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, acknowledgment, and need fulfillment.

Communication Variables

Linda Putnam suggested Adair and Loewenstein’s article on communication sequences, which identified a variety of ways that communication can be analyzed.

Analysis of bargaining process can define communications as substantive, strategic, persuasive, task-related, affective, or procedural.  A cue-response study analyzed communications as attacking, defending, or integrating.  Strategic negotiation behaviors can be defined as providing integrative information, creating value, providing distributive information, claiming value, pushing for closure, and process management.  A culture and negotiation scheme defines communications as information, substantiation, offers, reactions, mutuality, procedural, and clarification.  Some researchers have used the interests-rights-and-power framework.  Others have defined communications as relational or content.  A linguistic analysis may consider social/affect and cognitive communications.

Communication researchers also analyze non-verbal communication.  Nonverbal communication can be defined in terms of posture, head movement, hand movement, hand movement, eye gaze, vocal speech, and facial expression.  An emotion and vocal fluency scheme looks at pitch, expressiveness, volume, and fluency.  One can analyze vocal dynamics in terms of engagement, mirroring, emphasis, and activity.

Borbély’s Organizational Negotiation Best Practices

Adrian Borbély suggests that organizations that want to promote good negotiation should provide: (1) a smart incentive structure to negotiators (which requires a hard thought on the negotiators’ key performance indicators); (2) classification of negotiation settings to trigger different negotiation approaches; (3) creation of a negotiation knowledge lab to share good practices and good (and bad) examples of negotiation; and (4) institution of negotiation mentoring programs.

CPR’s Conflict Prevention Best Practices

CPR’s Conflict Prevention Initiative developed the following conflict prevention best practices:

I. During the initial negotiation and drafting of a business-to-business agreement or a corporate governance document, all parties should:

a) proactively and realistically think ahead about the future conduct of their business relationship,

b) realistically anticipate the possibility that problems and unexpected events can occur, and that they can generate disputes; and

c) incorporate appropriate processes into their agreements and documents to reduce and avoid disputes.

II. Processes recommended for adoption are designed to:

a) solve the underlying problem when an unexpected event occurs,

b) prevent the problem from escalating, and

c) achieve the immediate and low-cost resolution of any imminent disputes.


Do you have any other useful frameworks for analyzing negotiation?  If so, please share them in a comment.

7 thoughts on “Symposium Book Club – Summary of Negotiation Frameworks”

  1. Another one that I have seen, but cannot source definitively, is the “Relationship, Process, Substance” framework. This posits that the three dimensions of any negotiation to consider are the relationship between the parties, the process by which the negotiation is conducted, and the substance of what is being negotiated about. I have seen references to this in different presentations, but cannot attribute it to a particular author. Anyone know where this comes from?

  2. Another one that I have seen, but cannot source definitively, is the “Relationship, Process, Substance” framework. This posits that the three dimensions of any negotiation to consider are the relationship between the parties, the process by which the negotiation is conducted, and the substance of what is being negotiated about. I have seen references to this in different presentations, but cannot attribute it to a particular author. Anyone know where this comes from?

  3. Another framework I have seen, but can’t seem to source definitively, is the “Relationship, Process, Substance” breakdown of negotiation. This posits that the three dimensions of any negotiation involve considering the relationship between the parties, the process by which the negotiation is conducted, and the substance of what is being negotiated over. Anyone know where this comes from?

  4. Thanks very much for your kind words, Jill. I’m glad you enjoyed this series and I hope others did as well.

  5. Thanks, Jim.

    You and other readers will be pleased to know that we included a summary of Carrie’s article in the post on classics on interest-based negotiation and in this post on negotiation frameworks. Your comment adds some detail that is not in our summary.

    Of course, the reading list is just a drop in the bucket (but, mixing metaphors, we have bitten off a lot to chew). Carrie has written many pieces on the subject and we could fill a reading list just with her writing. We relied on our diverse, multi-disciplinary set of speakers to suggest publications — and invite readers to suggest others they think are valuable.

  6. Hi John,
    Thanks for your excellent discussion of mediation frameworks. While I understand your caveat that the list is not exhaustive, no discussion like this would be complete without reference to Carrie Menkel Meadow’s seminal 1984 article on problem-solving negotiation. In this piece, she distinguishes negotiation behaviors from negotiation processes. For example, she points out that cooperative or collaborative negotiation are terms that refer to behaviors that people exhibit while negotiating. The problem-solving approach to negotiation, on the other hand, refers to a more comprehensive process. She suggests that “[t]he conceptualization used in planning problem solving negotiation is useful in all negotiation, regardless of the particular behaviors chosen in the executory stages.” While Mnookin et al. have expanded on the idea of the lawyer as problem solver, Carrie’s early contribution stands out because it presents a new lawyering paradigm. Hope this is helpful.

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