Regulatory Focus at the Bargaining Table: Promoting Distributive and Integrative Success

Integritive2Regulatory Focus at the Bargaining Table:
Promoting Distributive and Integrative Success

Adam D. Galinsky
Northwestern University

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli
University of Toronto

Gerardo A. Okhuysen
University of Utah

Thomas Mussweiler
University of Cologne

 

To become successful negotiators, individuals must
carefully navigate conflicting tendencies to compete and
maximize self-interest, on one hand, and to cooperate
and maximize joint interests, on the other (Carnevale &
Pruitt, 1992). The mixed-motive setting of most bargaining
situations can make negotiators feel torn between a
drive to bargain hard and risk walking away from mutually
beneficial agreements, or bargain soft and risk failing
to claim as much of the resource as they could. To be
most effective, negotiators must both create as “large a
pie” as possible, to produce the most economically efficient
agreements, and “claim” as much of that pie as possible,
to satisfy their self-interest. An important research
question, then, is how might individuals circumvent this
conflict to simultaneously compete and cooperate to
achieve favorable agreements.
This tension between competition and cooperation
connects to the larger and more fundamental challenge
of how individuals regulate their thoughts, emotions,
and behavior. Regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1998)
was created to explicate how individuals self-regulate
toward desired end states. Regulatory focus emphasizes
that there are two distinct types of needs, nurturance and
security, toward which individuals may self-regulate and
that the processes of self-regulation are fundamentally
altered depending on which type of need is of primary
concern at any given point. Despite the widespread influence
of regulatory focus on thoughts, emotions, and
behavior (for a review, see Higgins, 1998), little research
has examined the role of regulatory focus in interpersonal
interaction more generally and in competitive,
mixed-motive, social interactions more specifically.

Regulatory Focus at the Bargaining Table: Promoting Distributive and Integrative Success

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