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The Technology of Negotiation
Editors’ Note: Here, the author follows up on his Email and Text negotiating chapters, both of which discuss technology which by now have become quite generic. This chapter is different: Ebner here describes representative examples of a burgeoning class of proprietary programs, which individually address one or another situation or problem a negotiator may have. Together, they form an expanding array of electronic helpers—and merely hint at what may be available not far into the future. It is increasingly evident, as a result, that keeping up with the field is no longer simply a matter of reading; learning new programs as they come along is virtually guaranteed to become more and more essential.
Introduction: Information Technology and Negotiation
The technological upheavals of the past generation have affected all forms of human action and interaction. They have changed the way we do everything—from shopping to dating, and from worshipping to banking. They have also changed who we interact with, and how we interact with them. The activity of negotiation is no exception to this shift. Technology, and the social, behavioral, psychological, and emotional changes it has brought about, affect the negotiation process, and, indeed, negotiators themselves. (Ebner, 2017)
With few exceptions [see, e.g., NDR: Newell, Digital Generation] the discussion regarding technology in the literature of the negotiation field focuses on technology providing negotiators with new communication tools—and how to best navigate this new interactional landscape. Many studies have focused on individual communication channels, detailing challenges and disadvantages and best practices for their advantageous use [see NDR: Ebner, chapters on Email, Videoconferencing and Texting, for examples and literature reviews regarding each medium]. Other studies have compared a number of widespread communication channels, for understanding their relative benefits and improving negotiators media choice (see, e.g., Purdy, Nye and Balakrishnan 2000; Mor and Suppes 2014). [NDR: Schneider & McCarthy, Communication Choices] Combined, these lines of inquiry seek to inform negotiators of how to best continue to play their familiar roles, through different communication technologies.
However, media effects and media choice are not the only areas of negotiation affected by technological developments. This piece sets these aside, and applies a different prism to the technology-negotiation interface, oriented towards more direct application of technology to negotiation.
Such direct application involves technology playing an active role; it not only constitutes a medium, it contributes to the negotiation process. It may contribute to one party only, or to both parties concurrently. It may also assist a third party working with both parties (although, as noted below, this is beyond the scope of this chapter).
In this chapter, I will discuss software applications designed specifically for supporting negotiation processes, or for assisting individual negotiators. Compared to the literature on negotiating through different communication media, the body of literature regarding negotiation-tailored software is slim, mainly detailing individual experiments on this front. Only a few of these developments have been reported on in the negotiation literature; others have appeared in a somewhat separate body of literature focusing on the field of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Still others may have flown beneath the radar of both of these fields.
This is not a piece on ODR in general.1 It is specifically aimed at negotiators interested in using technology in their negotiation endeavors—whether settling disputes, or making deals. Much of the focus on negotiation in the ODR field is on the dispute resolution, rather than the deal making, side of negotiation. This chapter focuses on both types of negotiation, but will not go beyond negotiation to discuss applications of technology to 3rd party-assisted processes. As Orna Rabinovich-Einy and Ethan Katsh explain, one of the first recognized benefits of applying technology to dispute resolution was the ability to automate negotiation processes, leading to interest and experimentation in this area. [NDR: Rabinovich-Einy & Katsh, ODR]....
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