Power imbalance and the pattern of exchange in dyadic negotiation

  • Mannix E
  • Neale M
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We investigate how a key structural aspect of negotiation--power--combinesw ith aspiration level to affect the interaction pattern of negotiators. Conflicting research findings have revealed that in most cases negotiators with an equal balance of power reach agreements of higher joint gain than negotiators with an unequal power balance, but in some instances the opposite result has been found. We suggest that it is important to consider the interaction between the negotiators to explain these varying findings. We propose that when unequal power negotiators are able to reach agree- ments of high joint gain it is due to the efforts of the low power party. In addition, we argue that the low power player will be most likely to drive the search for a solution of high joint gain when he or she also has high aspirations. We tested these proposals in a market negotiation with inte- grative potential. To examine the pattern of negotiation, all offers and counter-offers were written. The results indicated that overall, equal power dyads achieved higher joint outcomes than unequal power dyads. Under unequal power, the hypothesis that higher joint outcomes would be obtained when the low power player had high aspirations received partial support. In addition, support was found for the hypothesis that in unequal power dyads low power players would be responsible for driving solutions of higher joint gain.

Author-supplied keywords

  • aspiration level
  • markets
  • negotiation
  • power

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  • Elizabeth A. Mannix

  • Margaret A. Neale

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