Research Essay- Power & Negotiation

Essay by cauchemar81University, Bachelor'sA-, July 2005

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Consider how an imbalance between 'high power' and 'low power' parties might shape a negotiation process. How might an experienced mediator deal with this problem? Provide practical examples where appropriate.

The issue of power is inherent in negotiations. In most negotiated conflict situations, one party has more power than another. They may use their greater share of power to shape and manipulate a negotiation to achieve their desired objectives. Furthermore, when the power differential is substantial, this usually has a significant effect on both the substance and process of the dispute. This imbalance in power can be generated by a number of factors such as information and expertise; control over resources (money, supplies, manpower, time, equipment, critical services, interpersonal support); and location in an organisation structure (Lewicki, Saunders and Minton (2001), Essentials of negotiation, p.135). In order to resolve such a conflict, a third party negotiator or mediator, can be used to help the parties negotiate an agreement which they then have the option of accepting or rejecting.

To be successful, a mediator must have a thorough understanding these sources of power, as well as adopting various negotiation tactics. In some cases, mediators will play a problem-solving role focused upon negotiating an agreement to the immediate dispute. Whilst in other cases mediation focuses more upon improving relationships, with the assumption that the improved relationship will lead to conflict resolution or constructive confrontation. This essay will examine the effects of a power imbalance on the negotiation process, as well as examining how an experienced mediator might deal with the problem.

Power imbalances are evident throughout society. They may be generated by how much information or expertise someone may have compared to someone else. For example a university lecturer may have more power than there student because of the knowledge they...