Preventing Betrayal and Promoting Trust: A Social Exchange Analysis of Strategic Focus in Negotiation

Mara Olekalns
Melbourne Business School

Philip Smith
University of Melbourne – Department of Psychology


IACM 2007 Meetings Paper


Deal-making negotiations can be characterized as social exchanges in which individuals trade both tangible resources such as goods and information, and intangible resources such as favors and esteem. Representing negotiations in this way highlights both the implicit obligation for recipients to return resources, and the possibility that they will betray the relationship and fail to do so. The trustworthiness of the other party is thus central to negotiators’ strategic choices. To better understand how trustworthiness affects these choices, we develop a typology of relationships based on their representation on the dimensions of relational form whether negotiators represent outcomes as independent or interdependent, and relational assurance, the likelihood that characteristics of the relationship will promote successful interaction (low or high). Drawing on trust theory, we link each of the four relational types defined by this typology to a specific relational risk, which we characterize as failures in reliability, predictability, integrity or empathy. We then describe four distinct strategic clusters (deterrence, co-ordination, obligation, collaboration) that negotiators use to offset or neutralize these relational risks.

Preventing Betrayal and Promoting Trust- A Social Exchange Analysis of Strategic Focus in Negotiation

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