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Taming the Jungle of Negotiation Theories
Editors’ Note: Is there such a thing as a generally reliable theory of negotiation? Is there even a coherent definition of what negotiation is? And if not, how are we to make sense of a field that produces so many examples in so many settings? Lande has studied a wide variety of texts and sources, and sets out to pull them into, if not a single coherent range, at least a recognizable matrix.
You are probably familiar with the fable of the seven blind men and the elephant. Each man touches a different part of the elephant, such as the trunk, tusk, or ear, and is convinced that he knows the true nature of the beast. Of course, the moral of the story is that the whole animal reflects a combination of all their perspectives.
Theoretical analysis of negotiation is like seven tribes describing animals in a jungle ecosystem. Unlike a single elephant species, negotiation ranges from children swapping toys on a playground to lengthy multi-national processes producing detailed treaties—and everything in between. Unlike a small number of individuals describing elephants, there are numerous negotiation theorists who belong to various disciplines including anthropology, business, communication, crisis intervention, economics, labor, law, international relations, organizational behavior, political science, psychology, and sociology, among others. Although there are different disciplinary “tribes,” they “intermarry” so that negotiation theory in any of the disciplines includes features of others.
This chapter surveys theoretical literature about negotiation from various disciplines to identify the range of issues they address. I surveyed recent books that focused specifically on negotiation, excluding books that were primarily practice guides. This chapter does not include all significant issues or analyze any of the issues in detail, but I hope it is a useful way to explain why the whole field looks so different to different people, and will provide a summary of major issues addressed by contemporary negotiation theorists.
This chapter demonstrates that, although there is considerable overlap between the texts, there is nothing approaching a consensus about the structure and content of negotiation theory or even a definition of negotiation. (Of course, the book this chapter appears in might be viewed as an attempt, at least, at a truly rounded view.) Even in the thirteen books I reviewed that were devoted to negotiation generally, including eight legal texts, the structure and content varied dramatically. Table 1 is a general framework synthesizing the content of the books in this survey and it provides an outline for this chapter.
■ 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 Qualities and Skills
■ Perception, Cognition, and Emotion
■ In General
■ Agents, Teams, and Leadership
■ Multiple Parties and Coalitions
■ Negotiation Audiences
■ Communication Modes
■ Communication Units and Sequences
■ Fairness and Justice
■ Power and Influence
Table 1. General Framework of Negotiation Issues
For full contents please purchase The Negotiator’s Desk Reference.
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