Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

distributive negotiation

What is Distributive Negotiation?

Value claiming, also known as distributive negotiation or single-issue negotiation, involves trying to get as much of the pre-existing value on the negotiating table for yourself—and away from the other party.

In distributive negotiation, parties compete over the distribution of a fixed pool of value. Here, any gain by one party represents a loss to the other. You may also hear this referred to as a zero-sum negotiation or win-lose negotiation.

Distributive negotiation can be thought of as haggling—the back-and-forth exchange of offers, typically price offers, which the late Harvard professor Howard Raiffa referred to as the “negotiation dance.”

By comparison, in integrative bargaining, more than one issue is available to be negotiated. Whenever multiple issues are present—such as salary, benefits, and start date, in the case of a job negotiation—negotiators have the potential to make tradeoffs across issues and create value. Often, what looks like a distributive negotiation is, in fact, an integrative negotiation, as there may be additional issues you can add to the discussion.

It is true that a small number of negotiations are distinctly distributive negotiations. A negotiation over a used car, for example, may involve a single issue of price.

Still, we often overlook the fact that most negotiations allow for both collaboration and competition. Add the collaborative element of negotiation to the table, and the process becomes not only more enjoyable but also more rewarding.

The most effective bargainers in a distributive negotiation are often those who spent a lot of time preparing to negotiate. In particular, negotiators should determine their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA—what they’ll do if they don’t achieve their goals in the current negotiation. But to get to the point of creating a great deal, we typically must work with others to find new sources of value before we begin competing with them.

Find out more and discover how to refine your negotiation skills with this free special report, Salary Negotiations: How to Negotiate Salary: Learn the Best Techniques to Help You Manage the Most Difficult Salary Negotiations and What You Need to Know When Asking for a Raise, from Harvard Law School.

The following items are tagged distributive negotiation:

What Is Distributive Negotiation?

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Negotiation Skills.

What is distributive negotiation? Distributive negotiation involves haggling over a fixed amount of value—that is, slicing up the pie. In a distributive negotiation, there is likely only one issue at stake, typically price. When you are negotiating with a merchant in a foreign bazaar, or over a used car closer to home, you are generally … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Am I Using Deceptive Tactics in Negotiation?

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Dealmaking.

Ethical negotiators try not to use deceptive tactics in negotiation situations. However, there’s one negotiation technique that may not feel deceptive, but it can slip under the radar and cause problems later. We spoke with Francesca Gino, Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. We asked her … Read More 

Digitally Enhanced Simulation Packages – With Live Data Analytics

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

In-depth Teaching Materials with Real Time Data Analytics Designed to Enhance Teaching Negotiation  From the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) at PON, and iDecisionGames: digitally enhanced simulation packages designed to take your teaching to the next level. The Enhanced Simulation Package from the TNRC and iDecisionGames brings a new, interactive learning experience to teaching negotiation. This easy … Read More 

Value Claiming in Negotiation

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In most negotiations, we face two goals: claiming value and creating value. Value can be defined as anything you would like to get out a negotiation, whether it be more dollars, a consulting contract, a new rug, an end to conflict, and so on. … Read More 

What is Distributive Negotiation and Five Proven Strategies

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Dealmaking.

Most negotiations call for very different, even opposing, skills: collaboration and competition. To get a great deal, we typically must work with others to find new sources of value while also competing with them to claim as much of that value for ourselves. Before mastering the intricacies of value creation in negotiation, it helps to … Read More 

Distributive Bargaining Strategies

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Wise negotiators recognize the value of both collaborating and competing at the bargaining table. They look for ways to increase the pie of value for all parties, often by identifying differences across issues and making tradeoffs. And they also rely on distributive bargaining strategies to try to claim as much of that larger pie for … Read More 

How Much Does Personality in Negotiation Matter?

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Negotiation Skills.

We tend to have strong intuitions about which personality traits help or hurt us in negotiation, but does research on the topic confirm our hunches? Does personality in negotiation matter? Before we explore this topic, please answer “True” or “False” in response to the following questions: 1. Extroverted negotiators tend to perform better than introverted negotiators. 2. Agreeable … Read More 

Teach Your Students Value Distribution with a Simulation on Solar Power

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Do your students really understand the difference between value distribution and integrative negotiation, and have you given them a chance to practice their distributive bargaining skills? Do they understand that every negotiation includes elements of both value creation and value distribution? To help teach these key negotiation skills the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has developed a … Read More 

Teaching Real Estate Negotiation: How to Identify and Create Value

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

How do you teach your students to identify and create value in real estate negotiations?  Real estate negotiation can be difficult for both the buyer and the seller. Teaching real estate negotiation can involve value creation, distributive bargaining, as well as issue linkages. It is important for both buyers, sellers, and agents to identify ways to … Read More 

Types of Negotiation for Business Professionals

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Negotiation Skills.

What is negotiation? In her book The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator, Northwestern University professor Leigh Thompson defines negotiation as “an interpersonal decision-making process necessary whenever we cannot achieve our objectives single-handedly.” This definition stresses the interdependence that’s fundamental to any negotiation. Narrowing in on this definition, when preparing to negotiate, business professionals often wonder … Read More 

Add Variety to Your Curriculum with These Top Simulations

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Update Your Teaching Materials with Our Top Negotiation Role Play Simulations The field of negotiation is constantly evolving, and as such, requires new ways of teaching negotiation. It can sometimes happen that students come into a class having already encountered the negotiation simulation being used in the course, or that a different kind of exercise is … Read More 

Teach Your Students Dispute Resolution for Their Everyday Lives

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Negotiation refers to the process of working out agreements that meet each party’s needs and address their interests. People negotiate all the time in their everyday lives: in the workplace, within families, and when buying goods and services. Knowing which negotiation strategies to use in different circumstances can make a significant difference. The Teaching Negotiation … Read More 

Teach Your Students to Manage Two Party and Multiparty Negotiations

Posted by Lara SanPietro & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

Check Out Our Bestselling Two Party and Multiparty Negotiation Simulations More than just the increased number of parties at the table, there are key differences in how negotiators manage two party versus multiparty negotiations. Power disparities can be exacerbated in two party negotiations, however the opportunities for option generation can also be increased. The formation of … Read More 

What Does Conflict Management Mean in Business Negotiations with Competitors?

Posted by Katie Shonk & filed under Conflict Resolution.

They say it pays to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but in business negotiation, keeping your enemies—or competitors—close could end you up in court, as Apple’s recent encounter with the U.S. Department of Justice suggests. The story begins back in 2007 when, unhappy with Amazon’s low, flat price of $9.99 for e-books, five … Read More