Are Some Negotiators Better than Others? Individual Differences in Bargaining Outcomes

Hillary Anger Elfenbein
Washington University in St. Louis, Olin School of Business

Jared R. Curhan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Sloan School of Management

Noah Eisenkraft
University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School

Aiwa Shirako
University of California, Berkeley – Haas School of Business

Lucio Baccaro
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

June 12, 2007

Abstract:

The authors address the long-standing mystery of stable individual differences in negotiation performance, for which intuition and conventional wisdom have clashed with inconsistent empirical findings. The present study used the Social Relations Model to examine individual differences directly via consistency in performance across multiple negotiations, and to disentangle the roles of both parties within these inherently dyadic interactions. Individual differences explained a substantial 25% and 46% of objective performance in distributive and integrative bargaining, respectively, and 19% of subjective performance. Previous work may have understated the influence of individual differences because conventional research designs require specific traits to be identified and measured. Exploratory analyses of a battery of specific existing traits revealed few reliable associations with consistent individual differences in performance. Limitations, areas for future research, and practical implications are discussed.

Are Some Negotiators Better than Others? Individual Differences in Bargaining Outcomes

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