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Reputation in Negotiation
Catherine H. Tinsley, Jack J. Cambria &
Andrea Kupfer Schneider
Editors’ Note: Time was when a Formica plaque could often be found on the desk of a certain type of negotiator. It said “Yea, when I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I shall fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley.” But is it really to your advantage to have a reputation as one of the junkyard dogs of negotiation? The authors approach the question from three very different starting points. Tinsley summarizes the research on reputation in controlled settings. Schneider turns to real-life reputations of lawyers in action. Finally, Cambria shows how the life-and-death negotiations which characterize the work of the New York Police Department’s Hostage Negotiation Team have led to a new understanding of reputation. This chapter should be read in conjunction with Lewicki on Trust and Hollander-Blumoff on Relationships.
Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of….The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC)
A good reputation is more valuable than money. Publilius Syrus, Roman poet (~100 BC)
As both the ancient Greeks and Romans observed, reputations are critical assets. These need to be purposefully built and carefully protected. Organizations have been quick to discover the importance of developing and maintaining a favorable reputation or “brand” in the eyes of the public. Ten years ago, at the time of the first writing of this chapter, a keyword search on google.com for brand management turned up 24.5 million links, such as “how the world’s leading companies are managing their brands” and “how brand management builds business and increases sales.” In 2016, that search turned up over 60 million links. A similar search on the more specific phrase “protecting corporate reputation”, which typically cautioned how reputations are a company’s most valuable asset, turned up 769,000 links ten years ago and 962,000 today. Most interestingly, a google.com search with the keywords “protecting negotiator reputation” ten years ago turned up 25,600 links, which is a significant number, but only one-thirtieth or 3% of the number of links found for protecting corporate reputation. Yet by 2016 that same search turned up over 2.5 million links, a hundredfold increase! And the negotiator reputation search now finds more links than its counterpart for corporations. We wrote a decade ago that these searches suggested that, although negotiator reputations were acknowledged to exist, the criticality of building and protecting a negotiation reputation may not yet be fully realized. Today that recognition seems to be in place, as some companies now exist in order to protect and repair reputations in the fast-moving world of social media.
In this chapter, we draw from both academic research and professional experience to argue why reputations are critical for negotiators. We explain how reputations influence the negotiation process and hence negotiated outcomes. Moreover, we use theory developed in other domains (game theory and social and cognitive psychology) to help us reason why reputations should influence the negotiation process. We document both micro-individual level studies and macro-market level studies that have demonstrated the influence of reputations on negotiations in the legal and business domains. Then, we turn to the profes...
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