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What is an integrative negotiation?
An “Integrative negotiation” involves a scenario where the interests or objectives of each negotiator is not mutually exclusive. These negotiations contain more than one interest or objective. Often, the interests may be complex and only similar in certain aspects. As such, the resources claimed or the source of conflict between the parties are not singular or finite and there is opportunity for both parties to simultaneously improve or further their positions. As such, these negotiations are often referred to as “win-win” negotiations. Improvement of one’s position does not come at the expense of the counterparty improving her position – so both parties can win. This is in stark contrast to a distributive negotiation in which the resources or finite or the interests or objectives of the parties are at odds.
An integrative negotiation allows the negotiators to be creative in the negotiation process and create new or additional value for both parties. The breadth of interests allows for unique combinations, which allow the parties to isolate unique value and optimize concessions in the negotiation. Another way of creating value is by undertaking secondary or side negotiations that are separate from but dependent upon the primary negotiation. In any event, value can be created by combining different value propositions in a way that allows a negotiator to alter or affect the other party’s interest preference or objectives. In theory, an integrative negotiation allows for an optimal outcome for all parties without leaving any potential value on the table (unclaimed). In some cases, a negotiation may begin as distributive, but it becomes integrative as the parties are able to introduce alternative issues. It is important to note, however, that an integrative negotiation does NOT necessarily mean that there will be a compromise or furtherance of a relationship between the parties. It simply means additional value is created for both parties without it coming at the expense of the other party.
• Note: A perfectly executed integrative negotiation results in a “Pareto efficiency”. This results when there would be “no agreement that would make any party better off without decreasing the outcomes to any other party.”
• Discussion: Can you give an example of an integrative negotiation? Have you ever seen a distributive negotiation become integrative by altering a negotiator’s perspective or adding additional interests? Do you think that parties are easily able to identify when there are integrative possibilities for a negotiation?