– 62 --
Negotiation via Videoconferencing
Editors’ Note: Here, Ebner addresses a tool which has crept up on negotiators. Videoconferencing for negotiation was first hailed long ago with certain expectations: high quality video at high cost, to be used for negotiation between business teams in expensively equipped conference rooms. But now, these conditions are largely supplanted by widespread use of lower-resolution videoconferencing tools such as Skype and other low-to-no-cost programs, of varying quality and reliability. As one result, people now find themselves, routinely, in face-to-face negotiations with people whose faces cannot be seen very clearly. The social effects go far beyond this, too—concerns about who might be listening out of camera view, and other privacy and confidentiality issues, combine with widely varying levels of comfort with this technology to create a significant likelihood of a mismatch between parties who do not trust, or cannot manage, the technology or the setting equally. Ebner provides a matrix of considerations that apply to nonverbal communication in video conferencing, and another to help a negotiator understand features and risks of using video.
In the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, Marty McFly’s character received a video call on a widescreen in his den. A colleague persuades McFly to join an illegal business operation, against his better judgment. A moment later, another call comes in, from his employer. Having monitored the previous conversation, McFly’s boss fires him on the spot. His remonstrations are to no avail, and his boss reiterates that he is terminated; the words “You’re fired” flash in bold letters on the screen, as three other machines in McFly’s house spit out faxes bearing the same message.
In the movie’s timeline, this scene takes place in late 2015—or, loosely, today—projecting that today, interactions via videoconferencing would be the norm: people would engage in it naturally, all houses would be equipped for such interactions, and significant conversations—including negotiations—would occur through this medium.
While this projection is not as far off the mark as other projections made in that film, communication through videoconferencing is only just beginning to approach the ubiquity anticipated in the movie, whilst people’s comfort level with the medium—particularly for significant negotiation interactions—has yet to match the movie’s projection. Also interesting is that this communication channel—portrayed as futuristic, next-millennia technology—already existed, and indeed, was already old, when the film was made.
In order to understand the capacity of videoconferencing for supporting negotiation interactions, this chapter will briefly describe the developmental history of this medium. It will couch interactions via video in two models of communication theory, explaining implications of this media for human interactions. Zooming in on negotiation interactions, specifically, the chapter will detail areas in which negotiation via videoconferencing poses negotiators challenges and opportunities. Throughout, the chapter will explore the research pertaining to utilizing videoconferencing for negotiation, and provide negotiators with practical advice.
To note, communication over video has many names: Videophone, videotelephony, videochat, videoconferencing, and more. Distinctions have been suggested, but there is no commonly-accepted terminology. With both the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries now recognizing “Skype” as a verb, we can expect terminology to become even more confusing. The term videoconferencing will serve for the interactions described in this chapter. As a working definition using that term, in the context of negotiation: Negotiation via videoconferencing is negotiation between two or more people, who are not in the same place, communicating with each other through a medium in which they see real-time motion images of each other whilst concurrently hearing each other in real-time audio. This captures familiar interactions such as Skype or FaceTime conversations, as well as more immersive interactions such as multi-screen telepresence, screenless holographic co-presence, and others.
History of Videoconferencing: It’s Longer than You Thought
The 21st century is clearly characterized by lighting-paced adoption of technology and innovation. The smartphone, for example, has already....
For full contents please purchase The Negotiator’s Desk Reference.
Bhappu, A. D. and Barsness. 2006. Risks of Email. In The Negotiator’s Fieldbook, edited by A. K. Schneider and C. Honeyman. Washington, DC: American Bar Association.
Bos, N., J. Olson and D. Gergle, G. Olson and Z. Wright. 2002. Effects of Four Computer-Mediated Communications Channels on Trust Development. In Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM Press: New York.
Bracken, C. C., G. Pettey, T. Guha and B. Rubenking. 2010. Sounding Out Small Screens and Telepresence: The Impact of Audio, Screen Size, and Pace. Journal of Media Psychology Theories Methods and Applications 22(3): 125-137.
Daft, R. L. and R. H. Lengel. 1986. Organizational Information Requirements, Media Richness and Structural Design. Management Science 32(5): 554–571.
Ebner, N. 2012. Online Dispute Resolution and Interpersonal Trust. In ODR: Theory & Practice, edited by M. S. Abdel Wahab, E. Katsh, and D. Rainey. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing.
Ebner, N. 2009. E-mail Negotiation Simulation: Live8. In Negotiation: Readings, Exercises & Cases 6th ed, edited by R. Lewicki, D. Saunders, and B. Barry. Burr Ridge, IL: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Ebner, N. 2007. Trust-Building in E-Negotiation. In Computer-Mediated Relationships and Trust: Managerial and Organizational Effects, edited by L. Brennan and V. Johnson. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.
Ebner, N., A. Bhappu, J. G. Brown, K. K. Kovach and A. K. Schneider. 2009. You’ve Got Agreement: Negoti@ing Via Email. In Rethinking Negotiation Teaching: Innovations for Context and Culture, edited by C. Honeyman. J. Coben, and G. De Palo. St. Paul, MN: DRI Press.
Ebner, N. and J. Thompson. 2014. @Face Value? Nonverbal Communication & Trust Development in Online Video-Based Mediation. International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Forthcoming.
Ebner, N. and J. Zeleznikow. 2015. Fairness, Trust and Security in Online Dispute Resolution. Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy 36(2): 143-160.
Geiger, I. and J. D. Parlamis. 2014. Is There More to Email Negotiation Than Email? The Role of Email Affinity. Computers in Human Behavior 32: 67-78.
Lowenthal, P. R. 2009. The Evolution and Influence of Social Presence Theory on Online Learning. In Online Education and Adult Learning: New Frontiers for Teaching Practices, edited by T. T. Kidd. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Manwaring, M. and K. Kovach. 2012. Using Video Recordings: A Mirror and a Window on Student Negotiation. In Assessing our Students, Assessing Ourselves: Vol. 3 in the Rethinking Negotiation Teaching Series, edited by N. Ebner, J. Coben and C. Honeyman. St. Paul: DRI Press.
Matz, D. and N. Ebner. 2010. Using Role-Play in Online Negotiation Teaching. In Venturing Beyond the Classroom: Vol. 2 in the Rethinking Negotiation Teaching Series, edited by C. Honeyman, J. Coben, and G. De Palo. St. Paul: DRI Press.
Mehrabian, A. 1972. Nonverbal Communication. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.
Purdy, J. M., P. Nye and P. V. Balakrishnan. 2000. The Impact of Communication Media on Negotiation Outcomes. International Journal of Conflict Management 11(2): 162-187.
Short, J., E. Williams and B. Christie. 1976. The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. London: John Wiley & Sons.
Smolinski, R. and P. Kesting. 2012. Transcending the Classroom: A Practical Guide to Remote Role Plays in Teaching International Negotiation. Negotiation Journal 28(4): 489-502.
Thomas, L. E. and D. Pemstein. 2015. What You See is What You Get: Webcam Placement Influences Perception and Social Coordination. Frontiers in Psychology 6: 1-7.
Thompson, J. 2015. Nonverbal Communication and the Skills of Effective Mediators: Developing Rapport, Building Trust, and Displaying Professionalism. Thesis, PhD Doctorate, Griffith University, Brisbane.