Research Essay: Power and Negotiation

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Consider how an imbalance between 'high power' and 'low power' parties might shape a negotiation process. How might an experienced mediator deal with this problem? Provide practical examples where appropriate. The issue of power is inherent in negotiations. In most negotiated conflict situations, one party has more power than another. They may use their greater share of power to shape and manipulate a negotiation to achieve their desired objectives. Furthermore, when the power differential is substantial, this usually has a significant effect on both the substance and process of the dispute. This imbalance in power can be generated by a number of factors such as information and expertise; control over resources (money, supplies, manpower,…show more content…
However, if one side is far more powerful than another, they are likely to simply impose their solution on the other side, who will be forced to accept it, because they have no other choice. Using Fisher and Ury's term, they have no 'BATNA' (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement). (Gillian, (2005) Negotiation, lecture notes) Alternatively, the high power party may simply refuse to enter into a negotiation, because they have no need to. They can get what they want without compromising, or in any way giving in to the other side. So they pursue their alternative(s) to negotiation, which usually involve persuasion and/or force. However, advocates of the low-power side might refer to any effort at persuasion as co-optation or propaganda. Another possibility is that the low-power party will refuse to negotiate, because they fear they will be co-opted or otherwise forced to make compromises they do not want to make. Low power parties often engage in advocacy and violent or non violent direct action in an effort to build their power before they are willing to enter into a negotiation process. Other empirical studies reviewed by Lewicki et al (2001)
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