Avoiding the Agreement Trap: Teams Facilitate Impasse in Negotiations with Negative Bargaining Zones

Cohen, T. R., Leonardelli, G. J., & Thompson, L. (2014). Avoiding the agreement trap: Teams facilitate impasse in negotiations with negative bargaining zones. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 7(4), 232-242

A prior version of this paper was presented at the 2010 IACM conference.

24 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010 Last revised: 9 Jan 2015

Date Written: August 6, 2014

Abstract

The agreement trap occurs when negotiators reach deals that are inferior to their best alternative agreements. The paper extends prior negotiation research by investigating whether teams display greater wisdom than solos in knowing when to walk away from the negotiating table, and thereby avoid the agreement trap. Two experiments compared teams and solos in a negotiation in which reaching agreement was unwise because of misaligned interests. The negotiation involved a real-estate transaction in which the optimal solution was for the parties to declare an impasse. Study 1 found that two- and three-person teams were significantly more likely than solos to impasse. Study 2 found that the party faced with the greater need to make accurate judgments about the alignment between their own and their counterpart’s interests benefited most from the addition of a teammate. These findings offer insight into why the agreement trap occurs and how it can be reduced.

Keywords: agreement bias; agreement trap; negotiation; impasse; teams; groups

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Taya R. and Leonardelli, Geoffrey J. and Thompson, Leigh, Avoiding the Agreement Trap: Teams Facilitate Impasse in Negotiations with Negative Bargaining Zones (August 6, 2014). Cohen, T. R., Leonardelli, G. J., & Thompson, L. (2014). Avoiding the agreement trap: Teams facilitate impasse in negotiations with negative bargaining zones. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 7(4), 232-242; A prior version of this paper was presented at the 2010 IACM conference. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1612404 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1612404

Taya R. Cohen (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
4122686677 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/our-faculty-and-research/about-our-faculty/faculty-profiles/tcohen/cohen-t

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli

University of Toronto ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
1-416-946-0731 (Phone)
1-416-978-4629 (Fax)

Leigh Thompson

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Donald P. Jacobs Center
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-467-3505 (Phone)
847-491-8896 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.LeighThompson.com

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