How to define the “bargaining mix”?

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

Developing a negotiation strategy usually begins with an analysis of what is to be negotiated or the “bargaining mix”. Remember, a negotiation concerns situation in which the parties perceive a conflict in objectives or interests. As such, it is important to understand the nature of the interests at stake. The following are categorizations of interests:

• Substantive interests – These are interests that are the subject of the perceived conflict between the parties. If two people are arguing over who receives the largest share of a cash prize, the money at stake is the substantive interest.

• Process-based interests – These are interests related to how the negotiators behave as they negotiate. Individuals may be as concerned about how the negotiation plays as as they are about the interests at stake or the outcome. For example, a negotiator may be primarily concerned with the negotiation process being fair or allowing her to appropriately voice her concerns.

• Relationship-based interests – These interests are tied to the current or desired future relationship between the parties. Individuals are often affected greatly by their social interactions with others. Maintaining a positive relationship or securing an on-going relationship may be more important than one’s interests or the procedures followed in the negotiation.

⁃ Intrinsic relationship – This means that the parties to the relationship find value in maintaining the relationship as well as the relationship itself. That is, the parties are content with the existence of the relationship and there is joy in building and keeping up the relationship.

⁃ Instrumental relationship – This means that the parties receive some tangible or substantive value from the relationship. They maintain this friendship to ascertain that the benefits of the relationship continue.

• Interests in Principle – Principle-based interests are rooted in the deeply-held beliefs of the negotiators. We often assume that a conflict is based in the logical desire to claim value or pursue an objective. Sometimes, however, the internal beliefs can drive our objectives in a negotiation.

Interests may also be influenced by the intangibles of the negotiation. This may include opinions, 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:

• Brainstorm one’s actual or potential interests or objectives.

• 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.

• Inquire with the other party or with third parties about their interests or objectives (whether or not directly related to the present negotiation).

As previously stated, interests are often the primary determinants of the strategy employed in a negotiation. 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 are able to package interests and make tradeoffs to improve the positions of both parties.

• Discussion: Why do you think some individuals value process over substance in a negotiation? Can you think of examples of relationship-based interests driving a negotiation? Can you think of a situation in which negotiators are driven by principle, as opposed to a substantive, procedural, relationship-based interest? (Hint: Think of political negotiations.)

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