AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

A Study of Labour Negotiators: Orientation and Behaviour

by Kelly Ferguson

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Negotiation; Behaviour; Strategies; Tactics; Labour; Mind-set
Record ID: 1301418
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5582


This exploratory study examined individual negotiator social value orientation (preferences for the distribution of negotiated outcomes) and individual negotiator behaviour (strategies and tactics) in a labour relations context. Interviews were conducted with professional labour-management negotiators and collective bargaining negotiations were observed. The findings reveal that the majority of negotiators are competitively oriented and that a number of negotiators have a mixed orientation (both competitive and collaborative). Furthermore, the study reveals that distributive strategies and tactics dominate in real-world negotiations. Most of the negotiators were found to adopt a distributive strategy exclusively. However, the study also revealed that a number of negotiators utilise both distributive and integrative behaviours (albeit within a predominantly distributive strategy). Furthermore, the study examined the rigour with which behaviours are implemented. Since distributive strategies and tactics were found to be dominant it was not possible to analyse the rigour of integrative behaviours. Notwithstanding, the strength of distributive strategies and tactics were analysed. The findings show that negotiators implement distributive tactics from along a continuum that ranges from “hard” to “soft”. In fact, the majority of negotiators were found to be operating at some mid-point along that continuum, adopting a “moderate” approach to distributive bargaining that was neither hard nor soft but fell somewhere in-between. Finally, this study considered whether orientation predicts negotiation behaviour. The findings show that competitively oriented negotiators adopt distributive strategies and tactics almost exclusively, whereas the negotiators with a mixed orientation were found to be far more likely to adopt some integrative behaviour (even though their overall approach is predominantly distributive). As mentioned, the findings reveal that distributive behaviours are implemented with different degrees of rigour. Competitively oriented negotiators were found to engage in hard, moderate and soft distributive bargaining. The majority of cases were categorised as moderate, but hard and soft approaches exist. In contrast, negotiators with a mixed orientation were found to implement a moderate distributive approach only. The implications for this research and avenues for future research are discussed.