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How to define the “bargaining mix”?

How do parties define the issues or negotiation goals, known as the “bargaining mix”?

Defining a negotiation strategy usually begins with an analysis of what is to be negotiated or the “bargaining mix”. Interests may be substantive, process-based, or relationship-based. 

  • Substantive interests – Directly related to the focal issues under negotiation. 
  • Process-based interests – Relate to how the negotiators behave as they negotiate. 
  • Relationship-based interests – Tied to the current or desired future relationship between the parties.

Interests may also be influenced by the intangibles of negotiation. This may include beliefs, ideas, or cognitive processing (emotions). With an awareness of the types and complexity of potential interests. Attempt to derive complete list of the issues at stake in the following manner:

  • Note all issues or objectives openly expressed by the parties.
  • Brainstorm ones own actual or potential interests or objectives. 
  • Inquire (with the other party or with third parties) about their interests or objectives (whether or not directly related to the present negotiation).
  • Research prior similar situations (whether personal or third party) for potential issues or interests.
  • Consult with experts in this situation, context, or industry regarding potential interests at stake.



The number of issues in a negotiation, together with the relationship between the negotiator and the other party, are often the primary determinant of the strategy employed. Single-issue negotiations tend to dictate distributive negotiations because the only real negotiation issue is grabbing the value at stake. In contrast, multiple-issue negotiations lend themselves more to integrative negotiations because parties can use tactics, such as logrolling, to create issue “packages” that are mutually beneficial.

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