Barriers to Negotiation


Research paper: You will write a full-fledged paper on a topic that is relevant to the subject matter of the class.

The paper should be more than just a literature review. It should contain analytical section(s) where your original thoughts and writings are evident.

 Format: double-spaced, paged, one-inch margin all around, font size 12, use standard citation style (APA), between 10-12 pages.

As an alternate option for the final assignment, you may use the case, Negotiating on Thin Ice that details the 2004-2005 National Hockey League dispute between hockey players, represented by the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and team owners, represented by the National Hockey League (NHL). The dispute resulted in the eventual cancellation of an entire season of hockey and in the loss of billions of dollars in revenue. This case can be found as a PDF attachment under the “Books” tab on our classroom homepage.  It may take a minute to download.

The case emphasizes the key learning points that are most relevant to a course on negotiation or dispute resolution. Notably, while the case is based in the context of a labor- management dispute in the sports industry, the key lessons and insights are widely applicable across industries and to all types of negotiations. More specifically, the case is an excellent vehicle for discussing three issues that are critical in negotiation, but which are often ignored (or covered superficially) in most courses on negotiation.  

These are: 

Barriers to Negotiation:  Not reaching an agreement is not inherently a bad thing. If there is no zone of possible agreement (ZOPA)—i.e., if the value associated with any viable agreement is less than the value offered by one’s alternatives to the deal—“no deal” is an appropriate outcome. However, many negotiations end in no deal despite the potential for significant value creation between the parties. Why? The case allows for an analysis of psychologicalstructural, and tacticalbarriers to negotiation. A key learning of the case is that negotiators need to assess and target the various barriers to negotiation that might arise and derail an otherwise mutually agreeable outcome. 

Power Moves:  Most students and practitioners think that “power” (however defined) is a key factor in negotiation, and that effective negotiators need to understand how one can use – and defend against – power tactics. The case allows for the illustration and analysis of a variety of power moves, including the use of brinkmanship, threats, wars of attrition, worsening the other party’s BATNA, changing perceptions of the ZOPA, etc. 

Trust:  Another element, critical in most negotiations, is trust. The case allows for a more careful analysis of exactly how trust plays a role in facilitating negotiations, what happens when trust problems are ignored or set aside, how parties might create value by resolving problems of trust, and how trust building opportunities can be identified and leveraged.

For the final Assignment, think about these issues:

Using any sources drawn from the assigned readings or other sources that you may identify through your own research (articles / resources from the library or internet), please respond and discuss the following questions: 

1. Generally, what’s going on with this case? What are the issues? What might affect the parties’ ability to reach a negotiated agreement? Feel free to inject your creative juices and write as if you imagine yourself in the middle of this situation.

2. It might be easy to recognize that value would be created if the two sides in this dispute reached an agreement. But these parties seem to be having a difficult time reaching an agreement. Of course, not reaching an agreement in negotiation is not necessarily a bad thing. If there is no zone of possible agreement then “no deal” is where you should end up. From an economic, or value creation, point of view, do you think these parties should reach an agreement?

3. If you decide that a deal should happen, explain why you think it should happen. Is the creation of $2 billion in revenue sufficient for us to conclude that these parties should reach an agreement?

4. If, on the basis of our rough assessment, a deal “should” happen, why are these parties seemingly having a rough time? What is standing in the way of reaching an agreement?   

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