Strategic NegotiationsA Theory of Change in Labor-Management Relations



Labor-management relations have changed dramatically in recent years. Global competition and related economic, technological, political, and institutional changes have forced the collapse of the traditional social compact—based on steadily increasing wages and benefits for workers in exchange for unchallenged managerial autonomy—underpinning the U.S. labor market. In today’s competitive environment, managers can no longer afford the costs inherent in this compact and are striving to change their relationship with labor to achieve competitive advantages such as lower cost, increased operational flexibility, employee commitment, and improved customer service. Labor leaders respond to these new pressures by aggressively protecting past wage and benefit gains, emphasizing job security, and working to assure the institutional security of the union. In Strategic Negotiations, the authors look at the contract negotiation process to explain exactly how the renegotiation of the social compact is being achieved.

Strategic Negotiations identifies three fundamental negotiating strategies that are being used to effect changes in labor-management relations. The first, called forcing, involves making labor accept unwanted substantive terms while simultaneously reducing the union’s influence in the workplace. In contrast, the second strategy of fostering emphasizes finding solutions to common problems and building trust and consensus between the parties. The third strategy, escape, entails withdrawing from the negotiating relationship altogether by physically transferring operations to another location. Using detailed case studies of individual firms and entire industries to analyze the tactical advantages and risks of each approach, the authors ultimately recommend a mixed strategy of forcing and fostering.

The book is divided into three sections. Part I reviews the contemporary labor-management landscape and presents the authors’ theory about how the strategies are being used to reshape relationships between American management and labor. Part II offers case histories of thirteen companies drawn from the pulp and paper, auto supply, and railroad industries to illustrate that theory. Part III examines the case studies in greater depth to assess the influences on the negotiators and their ensuing strategic choices, and Part IV identifies the specific tactics companies use to implement their negotiating strategies.

Throughout the book, the authors note evidence that explains why certain negotiations were successful while others failed, and provide guidelines to help practitioners decide which strategy or combination of strategies is best for their situation. While labor and management must continue to attend to their different and often conflicting interests, each must give equal or greater attention to the parties’ common interests to survive in today’s competitive business arena. By establishing a clear framework for understanding how the U.S. labor market is evolving, this book offers the parties a way to address both their differences and their expanding mutual interests.

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.