Integration Through Redefinition: Revisiting the Role of Negotiators’ Goals

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Group Decision and Negotiation




Bargaining zone, Goal setting, Integration, Interest pursuit, Negotiation


Effective negotiation rests in part on generating integrative agreements, or agreements advancing parties’ interests through generating joint gains. Theorists have outlined multiple possibilities to achieve integrative agreements (Pruitt in Negotiation behaviour, Academic Press, New York, 1981; Carnevale in: Deutsch, Coleman, Marcus (eds) Handbook of conflict resolution: theory and practice, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2006), but negotiation research relies disproportionately on studies of one method of integration—making efficient tradeoffs on existing issues. The current studies examine integration through redefinition—modifying the issues under discussion. Doing so encourages revisiting the role goals play in negotiation. Study 1 found that positive and negative bargaining zones are not just indicators of agreement rates, but also cues to consider redefining issues. Specifically, negative bargaining zones spurred attempts to create value that positive bargaining zones did not. Study 2 found that focusing on interests was useful for redefining issues, whereas focusing on ambitious targets was no better than focusing on reservation points. Implications for negotiation theory are discussed.

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