Being Strategically Integrative in Real World Negotiation

Noam Ebner
Creighton University School of Law – Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution



Many negotiation texts and trainings urge parties to focus on “win-win” and integrative solutions; however, they provide precious little advice on just how to do that. Most of the advice given is general in nature: e.g., “listen,” “ask questions,” or “share information.” However, while this is good advice, it might not specify what we should listen for, what questions should we ask or what information is particularly important and helpful to integrative negotiation. Such advice is usually left undetailed – and many other moves negotiators can make while implementing an integrative approach are left unmentioned. Practically speaking – how might we go about taking a fixed-pie, distributive-seeming situation, and turn it into an opportunity for greater gain through expanding the pie?

Finally, little distinction is made between interest-based negotiation (which focuses on parties sharing information regarding their interests and seeking solutions that satisfy both) and integrative negotiation (which focuses on helping parties to learn where value can be discovered and created, and enabling them to achieve deals of the highest possible value to them). Once this distinction has been deepened, it makes sense that they each need a different toolbox. There will be significant tool-overlap of course, but as the mindset is different, so too will the tools.

In this short piece, I summarize (and illustrate with my own own commentary and examples) some of the recommendations for strategically implementing the approach of integrative negotiation, provided by Leigh Thompson in Chapter 4 of her book The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator. This should provide teachers and trainers with a convenient teaching resource to supplement classroom activities on this topic.

Being Strategically Integrative in Real World Negotiation

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