negotiation- - 5. elements of negotiation

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  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation




    Elements of Negotiation

    The negotiation process as defined in chapter two, is influencedby many elements. These elements, such as persuasion, conflict,trust and the particular context, are often processes in their ownright. Volumes have already appeared on each one of theseelements, but for the purpose of this book a concise synopsis of

    each will be given.

    Negotiation is also a dynamic human communication system,where information is formulated by the participants in the form ofnegotiation tactics and strategies, exchanged and interpretedwithin the negotiation context and the developing relationship.

    The elements discussed in this chapter influence thenegotiation process, are also being influenced by the process andby each other. Power, for example, does not exist withoutperception. Although the elements are interdependent, for the

    sake of completeness and clarity, they will be discussedseparately.


    Perception is the process by which man ascribes meaning toinformation. Mortensen (1972:69) defines perception as, . . . howman translates raw sensory data into meaningful experience. . .


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    It is precisely this interpretive function that causes so manyproblems in negotiation, or alternatively, makes it successful.According to Adler and Rodman (1982:42), and Mortensen (1972:70), the interpretation of perceived information is based onprevious experience, assumptions about human behaviour,expectations, knowledge, and current physical and psychologicalconditions. It is therefore imperative that negotiators should beaware of the influence of these factors on their perception in

    negotiating situations. Stereotyping is in particular a seriousperception problem: it is, generalisation about a class of people,objects or cultures (Tubbs, Moss 1974:84), which prejudices thenegotiator against his opponents.

    Perception plays a role in every phase of negotiation: planning,face-to-face communication, and the implementation of thedecision.


    Perception is in turn influenced by the parties needs (Karrass1970:121), goals (Atkinson 1980:34), exertion of power(Bacharach, Lawler 1981: 45), culture (Mortensen 1973:295),which determine the semantic value and therefore theinterpretation of the communication, and by the functioning of thenegotiating process itself. The bargaining process consists ofoffers and communications which are intended to influence anopponents perceptions of alternatives and utilities (Druckman1973:26).

    Perception in the negotiation process is also influenced by theperceptions of others. Hatch (1979:19) maintains that, You cant

    expect to have much effect upon another persons perceptionsand behaviour if you refuse to allow him or her to affect your ownperceptions and behaviour. Perception is therefore a learningprocess, and as the negotiating process progresses, it should beadjusted accordingly.

    Karrass (1970:120-122) maintains that perception is affected,by mans hierarchy of needs as explained by Maslow.


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    Figure 8


    If a party could accurately perceive the other partys needs andgoals, he will be able to predict that partys behaviour and planeffective strategies and techniques to obtain the desired results.


    Rotter (1966) has developed a scale that measures the influenceof perception on negotiating behaviour. The locus of


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    control the way in which human behaviour is controlled isused as the criterion. Bobbit (1967) used Rotters scale in hisexperiments and found that individuals with an internal locus ofcontrol, are less sensitive to others perceptions and thereforeless influenced by their behaviour. Individuals with an externallocus of control are less concerned about their own gain andmore interested in interpersonal behaviour. They are thereforemore inclined towards co-operation, while the first group exhibitsbehaviour that is more competitive.

    In the light of the importance of perception in negotiation, muchmore research about the role of this negotiating element innegotiating behaviour is required. The restructuring of perception,in order to be seen as successful is one of the problem areas thatshould be examined.


    The concept of power is as ancient and ubiquitous as any thatsocial theory can boast (Dahl, 1957:201).

    Although power may be as old as negotiation itself, the studythereof has been sorely neglected. Pfeffer (1981: 2) offers thefollowing reasons for this state of affairs:

    (a) the concept power is problematical in most social scientificliterature;

    (b) power is important (also in negotiation), but it is not the onlysignificant factor; and

    (c) the implementation of expertise on power is problematicalas a result of the implications and connotations inherent inthe concept.

    Mintzberg (1983:xiv) summarizes in one phrase the problem ofconceptualizing power: . . . power is a sly and elusivephenomenon. Mintzberg found the literature so diverse andmeagre, the concept definition so elusive and the phenomenonso complicated that he had to review his hefty work on powerseven times between 1971 and July 1982.

    Power is described by Dahl (1957:201) as a bottomlessswamp and by Perrow (1970:ix) as the messiest problem of all.


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    What is power

    Power is therefore a concept as difficult to define, as it iscomplicated. The literature studied throws little light on the natureand function of power. Power is, however, a social reality and sorelevant in negotiation that one should attempt to define andexamine it.

    As starting point for an examination of power the dictionarydefinition (Concise Oxford Dictionary) is used, namely that poweris the ability to do, to obtain, or bring about something.

    Definitions of power can be divided into three types, namely:

    (a) The attainment of goals, for example, Chamberlains (inBacharach, Lawler 1981: 37) definition: . . . the capacity ofa party to produce an agreement on its own terms.

    (b) The relationship and actions of actors A & B, for example,Dahls (1957:202-203) definition of power in terms of the

    division of the power between actor A and actor B.(c) The ability to bring about something. Emerson (1962:32)

    describes power as the resistance B has to overcome inorder to accomplish something. Thibaut and Kelley (1959)view negotiating power as the potential of one party toinfluence anothers results, and Zartman (1974:396) sees itas the ability to direct anothers behaviour as desired.

    A simple definition of negotiating power that includes all theseelements is

    the ability to influence the negotiating results.

    Elements of power

    Power building is a process that takes place in negotiation and isinfluenced, according to Mintsberg (1983:3) by basic elementssuch as

    (a) the manipulators, power users or power builders innegotiation the negotiators or parties;


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    (a) in the end the exertion of power depends on the ability toapply sanctions should there be no compliance; and

    (b) power always refers to a social relationship between atleast two parties.

    Goldstein and Sies (1974:44) differentiate between two types ofpower relations: symmetrical and complimentary. When both

    parties respect one another and share the responsibility of thesuccess of the negotiation, there is a symmetrical powerrelationship. An acknowledgement of differences leads to acomplimentary power relationship where each party strives tobuild his own power.

    Sources of power

    How does power originate, or what can be used to build power?

    Sources from which power originates, or is built, exist in the

    negotiating situation, the negotiator, or outside both of these.

    Situational power

    (a) Power of expertise.

    This refers to the amount of knowledge that individuals orgroups have relative to one another. If one party has a need forpower, the other party will have power that is relative to thedependence of that party.

    (b) Legitimate power.

    Legitimate power is defined as the power that arises frominternalised values in person A that determine that person B hasa legitimate right to influence A and that it is Bs duty to acceptthat influence (French, Raven 1968: 192). In all cases the senseof legitimacy is based on a code or standard accepted by theindividual and used as external power agent by another. Anexample of this would be cultural or ethnic norms or values, or


  • 8/9/2019 Negotiation- - 5. Elements of Negotiation



    ground rules layed down for the purpose of negotiation.Legitimate power may also be transferred to a subordinate.

    (c) Referred power

    This is power which a party obtains as a result of h