The Negotiator Magazine

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To deal with this focus, I commenced work with Dr. Siggi Gudergan from the University of Technology, Sydney Australia to examine the existing literature on style and to look at current approaches to negotiating styles.

Negotiating styles are different and the context of the situation will determine which style is most suitable. My experience is that we often become too comfortable with one style and say, 'that's just who I am'.

Existing literature

The literature on negotiation styles prO"vides several conceptual frameworks of negotiation behaviour. For example, Thomas and Kilmann (1987) assume negotiation styles are independent of a particular context, and that individual negotiation behaviours can therefore be assessed across situations. Negotiation styles are also relatively stable, personality-driven clusters of behaviours and reactions that arise in negotiation encounters.

There are patterns in individuals' behav':iour that reappear in various negotiation situations through the mechanism of predisposition toward particular courses of conduct (Gilkey and Greenhalgh 1986). On the other hand, Hall (1969) assumes negotiation behaviour is highly influenced by the situation (i.e., interaction between the negotiating parties), Rahim (1983) by the target (i.e., superior, subordinate, peer), and Putnam and Wilson (1982) by both the situational context and the target.

The literature states numerous negotiation styles and associated measurement instruments—most of them being inconsistent and not integrated. For example, Putnam and Wilson (1982) identify three negotiation styles—control, solution-oriented and nonconfrontation modes. These three negotiation styles are similar to those identified by authors such Mnookin et al (2000) and Weider-Hatfield (1988). Other authors specify five negotiation styles—integrating, obliging, dominating, avoiding and compromising (Rahim 1983) or collaborating, compromising, competing, accommodating and avoiding (Thomas and Kilmann 1987).

Common among those and the various other typologies are two distinct styles: the integrative and distributive styles. An integrative negotiation style is linked to a problemsolving orientation in which trust, affinity, and joint gain are emphasised, whereas the distributive negotiation style is linked to a competitive orientation in which power, control, and individual gain are emphasised.

While there are inconsistencies in respect to how negotiation styles are conceptualised in the various contributions, there are also problems associated with the substantiative focus of measurement: many authors do not distinguish clearly between negotiation predisposition, negotiation strategy and negotiation tactics; with many authors using all three foci interchangeably within a single study.

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March 2005