The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader's Review

John Baker

Negotiations Without a Loser
By Iwar Unt
158 pp. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press, 1999
Hardback Edition: (US) $35.00

Iwar Untís Negotiations Without A Loser has been recognized as Swedish Management Book of the Year and provides a valuable reference for the negotiator. It is a work that draws upon Mr Untís more than twenty years of experience as a consultant to a wide range of international corporations. His client list includes Volvo, Saab, Esselte, Siemens and Kodak and many other major firms.

Unt begins by exploring two basic approaches to negotiations: the zero-sum approach and the cooperative negotiating route. In his view, it is not a question of whether one is correct and the other is incorrect, but rather one of "... determining which combination of the two you should choose to achieve the best possible results" (p.12).

Ideally, negotiations should be begin with cooperation, build mutual trust and thereby enable the parties to "... create added value that both of you can benefit from," is the message (p.12). Then, in Untís view, the added value created through cooperative negotiations can shift to a zero-sum approach to divide the value.

The zero-sum game as a singular approach has two major flaws in Untís analysis. The first is that it makes one party a winner and the other party becomes a loser with all the negative ramifications of such a contest format. "Worst of all," Unt concludes, "no added value is created" (p12).

"In the two thirds or so of the cases in which negotiators end up reaching an agreement," Unt writes, "they tend to be very poor at taking advantage of possibilities for creating value" (pp.1213). Why, we ask. For the author, the failure to create value is because "most negotiators, lacking insight into the advantages this approach [cooperation] offers, have difficulties in getting it to function, and may even lack the motivation to do so" (p.12).

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