Interests Facilitate Forming Agreements: Examining Negotiators' Task Representations
30 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2005
Date Written: June 1, 2005
A common claim about negotiation is that parties' interests define the problem that any agreement needs to solve (Fisher, Ury & Patton, 1991). The prescription is that parties should negotiate over interests, not positions. Consequently, parties who construe their goal as satisfying their interests should be more likely to reach agreement, and form higher quality agreements, than parties who construe their goal as reaching a position. This is a specific version of a general cognitive psychological claim: one's understanding of a problem determines the solutions that one considers (Simon, 1978). Three studies of dyadic negotiations show that negotiators who represented their goals in terms of interests as opposed to positions, and communicated those interests to the other party, were more likely to reach integrative agreements.
Keywords: Negotiation, integrative agreements, problem solving
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