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Dependence Level in Negotiation

7. What is the level of “dependence” in a conflict negotiation?

Dependence concerns the extent to which parties to a conflict rely on the other to achieve an outcome or resolution of the conflict. Negotiations are generally characterized as follows:

• Independent Negotiations – Parties to the negotiation are able to achieve their interests or objectives without assistance from another party. That is, the negotiator focuses on her personal interests or objectives without regard to the interests or objectives of the other parties.

• Dependent Negotiations – In direct contrast to independent negotiation, a party’s ability to achieve her interests or objectives depends entirely upon the actions of the other parties. This generally means that dependent party must, to some extent, allow the other party to further an interest or achieve an objective in the negotiation before the dependent party can improve her position. In negotiating practice, the dependent party must accommodate the other party with little requirement from concession from the other side.

• Interdependent Negotiations – Parties have mutual dependence on each other. To achieve their desired outcomes, each negotiator must work to achieve the interests or objectives of the other party or parties. The interests and objectives of the parties may be the same or they may be characterized as “interlocking”.

A negotiation is likely to be independent if a party is unable to improve her position or desired outcome by considering the interest or objectives of the other party. That is, the negotiator is driven in the negotiation solely by her own interests and objectives. If a party is completely dependent upon another party, she will negotiate by making concessions allowing the other party to achieve (or improve upon her position with regard to) her interests or objectives. Negotiating interdependently means that both parties will focus on the interests and objectives of the other party. The extent to which one party achieves (or improves her position with regard to) her desired outcome will improve the outcome of the other party. There is a give and take between the parties that allows both parties to achieve a more favorable outcome than they could achieve independently.

• Discussion: Can you give an example of an independent negotiation, dependent negotiation, interdependent negotiation? Can you see how characterizing the negotiation based upon dependence will influence the strategy and tactics employed by each party?

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