Psychological Foundations of the Behavioral Theory of Negotiation
27 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2008
Date Written: 2007
Walton and McKersie's Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiation sought to provide a descriptive theory of the process by which union and management negotiators reached settlements. Their paper drew on existing psychology, behavioral decision theory, and game theory. The basic psychological model of the negotiator was essentially the same as that used in most rational choice theory. Since then descriptive research on negotiation has branched into numerous subfields. Thompson recently characterized the state of research as a many sided prism. In this paper we use recent developments in evolutionary psychology to suggest an alternative psychological foundation for a general behavioral theory of negotiation. Such a theory would not be wedded to the particular institutional structure of collective bargaining. It may begin to synthesize the empirical regularities regarding different aspects of negotiation that have been discovered since the work of Walton and McKersie.
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