BATNA

In negotiation, BATNA refers to your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement,” or the best outcome you can expect if you fail to reach agreement at the bargaining table with your counterpart. An evaluation of your BATNA is critical if you are to establish the threshold at which you will reject an offer. Effective negotiators determine their BATNAs before talks begin.

When you fail to determine your alternative, you’re liable to make a costly mistake—rejecting a deal you should have accepted or accepting one you’d have been wise to reject. In negotiation, it’s important to have high aspirations and to fight hard for a good outcome. But it’s just as critical to establish a walkaway point that is firmly grounded in reality.

There are four steps to assessing your BATNA: List your alternatives; evaluate these alternatives; establish your BATNA based on these alternatives; and calculate your reservation value, which is the lowest-valued deal you are willing to accept. If the value of the deal proposed to you is lower than your reservation value, you’ll be better off rejecting the offer and pursuing your BATNA. If the final offer is higher than your reservation value, you should accept it.

One drawback to exploring your best alternative is in spending too much time and money in researching it. This can lead to a feeling of entitlement in negotiation, which may cause the negotiator to expect too much from the bargaining process.

Articles offer numerous BATNA examples and explore the concept of one’s BATNA, as well as how to effectively identify your BATNA in negotiations and how to use this knowledge effectively in any type of negotiation, whether in business, international, or personal negotiations.

BATNA Strategy: Should You Reveal Your BATNA?

PON Staff   •  01/12/2021   •  Filed in BATNA

In their best-selling book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin, 1991) introduced the concept of having a BATNA strategy (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) as “the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured.” When you know what you’ll do if you don’t reach … Read More 

For Business Negotiators, Patience Can be a Virtue

PON Staff   •  12/22/2020   •  Filed in BATNA

Business negotiators know that persistence and tenacity can make all the difference between impasse and a game-changing breakthrough. Take the saga behind Microsoft’s 2013 announcement of its pending $7.2 billion acquisition of Finnish mobile phone company Nokia’s handset and services business. The two parties engaged in many months of fruitless talks before either side believed … Read More 

BATNA and Risky Negotiation Tactics

PON Staff   •  12/08/2020   •  Filed in BATNA

Your BATNA is your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” Expect that your negotiating counterpart has one going into a negotiation, and so should you. Below is a good BATNA negotiation example involving how to leverage your away-from-the-bargaining-table options and the risks inherent with such a negotiation strategy. … Read More 

Star Wars Stories: George Lucas and a Strong BATNA, Passed Over

Katie Shonk   •  12/01/2020   •  Filed in BATNA

In negotiation, your best source of power is typically your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. When you are aware that you have an appealing alternative deal to the one you’re working on, you will be less tempted to accept an agreement that doesn’t meet your minimum requirements. A strong BATNA gives you … Read More 

Understanding Your Counterpart’s BATNA

PON Staff   •  11/16/2020   •  Filed in BATNA

One of the most popular questions concerning negotiation strategy and an area of negotiation research that draws heavily on negotiation examples in real life is how do negotiators identify their BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, and even better, how do they identify their counterpart’s BATNA? Consider the saga of a company that … Read More