Imagine that you’re buying a used car from its original owner. Of course, you want to get the best deal you can for your money, while your counterpart wants to maximize the value of his asset. After haggling with one another, each side finally arrives at a price point acceptable to both parties. But how much better could the deal have been for both sides if they’d used integrative bargaining?
The above scenario is common in many transactional negotiations: You hold your cards close and share as little information as needed to achieve your goal.
Michael Wheeler, Harvard Business School and Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School faculty member, asks us to imagine a different scenario, one in which both parties reveal their interests at the onset of a negotiation.
A recent article by Katie Johnston for Harvard Business School, “The Art of Haggling,” describes the difference between distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining. Getting to Yes, the seminal work from Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation founder Roger Fisher and Harvard Negotiation Project Senior Fellow and Program on Negotiation cofounder William Ury, advocates for integrative bargaining. In integrative bargaining, each side seeks to create an agreement beneficial to both parties.
The integrative approach is taught in most professional schools. Professor Wheeler emphasizes that situations that initially look like win-lose negotiations can often be turned into opportunities for mutual gain and value creation.
Of course, the integrative approach has its limits, and Wheeler notes that the art of negotiation lies in simultaneously creating and claiming value, or “riding two different horses at the same time.”
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