The Wave/Particle Tension in Negotiation

36 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2011 Last revised: 9 Jan 2013

See all articles by Ran Kuttner

Ran Kuttner

University of Haifa, Peace and Conflict Management

Date Written: June 1, 2011


Using the wave/particle duality, a central principle in quantum physics as a metaphor, this article describes two different modes of human interaction that a negotiator should be aware of when conducting her negotiations-within, i.e. her internal negotiations with regard to how a situation should be approached, before and during the actual negotiation. The first section presents the wave/particle duality. The second section makes the transition from physics to discuss the centrality of the wave/particle duality in human everyday experience and suggests that a wave-like negotiation mindset and approach can be taught. The third section shows basic differences between wave-like and particle-like interactions, also suggesting that the ongoing debate in the literature between interest-based and relational approaches can be read in the light of the wave/particle tension or duality. The fourth section offers an analysis of the characteristics of wave-like interactions that should be cultivated by negotiators and discusses the considerations one should take into account when negotiating-within and deciding on the type of negotiation that should be applied.

Keywords: negotiation theory, dialogue, negotiation tensions, relational approach

Suggested Citation

Kuttner, Ran, The Wave/Particle Tension in Negotiation (June 1, 2011). Harvard Negotiation Law Review, Vol. 16, 2011. Available at SSRN: or

Ran Kuttner (Contact Author)

University of Haifa, Peace and Conflict Management ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, NE 3498838
+972-52-8433495 (Phone)
+972-73-7431379 (Fax)


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