The evolution of negotiation. In essence this paper argues that the definition of negotiator success has changed.

Essay by treyhincherUniversity, Master'sA+, February 2004

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The evolution of negotiation Negotiation is a process of interpersonal exchange, so frequently encountered at every level of society that its impact on human welfare cannot be overestimated (Pruitt, 1981). In 1947, Zartman argued that, "ours is an age of negotiation." The validity of this statement remains today, since negotiation is a decision-making process commonly used to select courses of action or to distribute resources (Ury, 1991). As such, one's ability to negotiate well has serious implications for one's personal and professional well-being. Despite the fact that most of us negotiate every day, negotiators continue to obtain suboptimal outcomes, suggesting that practice does not always make perfect. Thompson (2001) makes this point when she notes that Raffia (1982) has likened negotiation to a dance stating "most of us have never taken lessons . . . or know what to do once we find ourselves on the dance floor" (Thompson, 2001, p34).

As a result, scholars from an array of disciplines (e.g., psychology, economics, industrial and organizational behavior, sociology, communications, and law) continue to investigate the variables that account for negotiator success.

Before scholars can generate a useful theory regarding negotiator success, and provide prescriptive advice for obtaining it, they must be clear about what "success" is and how it is operationalized. This paper examines the evolution of thought regarding 1) the operationalization of "negotiator success" and the implication these current notions of success have on theory and on research, 2) the interpretation of empirical findings, 3) beliefs about effective strategies, and 4) attributions about performance and prescriptive advice. In essence this paper argues that the definition of negotiator success has changed over time due to the failure to distinguish between negotiator objectives and strategies used for obtaining the objectives. This paper will further argue that the confounding of these distinct...