Roman Trötschel – Introduction to Augmenting the Bargaining Zone – Leuphana Digital School


Hello everybody and welcome to the fourth
assignment! In this phase, we will look at the underlying
interests, needs and motives of the stakeholder when negotiating on Commons and shared resources.
Roger Fisher and William Ury were the first authors in the field of negotiation research
suggesting the important role of parties´ interests with respect to finding mutually
satisfying, sustainable agreements. Fisher and Ury explained that negotiations often
take the form of positional bargaining. In this type of bargaining, each party begins
with their position by claiming specific resources. The parties then negociate from their separate
opening positions to agree on a mutual accepted position at the end of the negotiation. Haggling
over the distribution of a shared resource, such as claiming a certain amount of water, is
a typical example of positional bargaining. Fisher and Ury argue that positional bargaining
will not produce sustainable agreements. Rather it is an inefficient means of reaching win-win
solutions and the outcome reached through positional bargaining tend to neglect the
parties’ underlying interests. Effective negotiation strategies focus on
the parties’ interests, rather than on positions. As Fisher and Ury explain, “Your position
is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what caused you to so decide. Thus, defining
a problem in terms of positions means that at least one party will “lose” the negotiation.
However, when a social conflict is defined in terms of the parties’ underlying interests,
it is often possible to find a solution that satisfies parties’ needs and motives.
Thus, the first step is to identify the parties’ interests regarding the resources at hand.
This can be done by asking why the parties hold the positions they do, and by considering
why they don’t hold another position. Each party usually has a number of different interests
underlying their positions. And interests may differ somewhat among the members of each side. Once the parties have identified their interests,
they must discuss them together. If parties want the other parties to take their interests
into account, they must explain these interests to the other parties in a clear manner. In sum, parties should keep
a strong focus on their interests but they need to remain open to different proposals
and positions. So what is the role of interests in negotiations on shared resources and Commons? From a psycholgical perspective, interests can be defined as desires and concerns that motivate people to take a certain position in a negotiation. The difference
between interest and position is a very important one, as seemingly incompatible positions might
still contain win-win potential when looking at the underlying interests. In the illustrated example provided by Mary Follett with the two sisters negotiating on the distribution of
an orange, the sisters´ incompatible positions are reflected in their respective claims to
receive the whole orange. However, the sisters´ underlying interests and the corresponding
preferences for different sub-resources of the orange allow for an integrative win-win
agreement: One sister with the interest to drink orange juice had a strong preference
for the pulp, while the other sister with the interest to bake a cake had a strong preference
for the peel. It is important to keep in mind that our interests
can be rooted in different human needs and motives such as our physiological needs – for
instance our need for nourishment – or our social needs – for instance our need for affiliation.
With respect to the orange example, one of the sisters´ interest to bake a cake could
be rooted in her need for nourishment, but also in her need for affiliation, for example
when the cake will serve as a friend´s birthday present. So, let me give you an example from the field
of Commons: behind the interest of joining a community garden can be different needs,
such as again the need for nourishment, or the need for affiliation, or even the need
for self-actualization, to learn new skills in a new environment. Roger Fisher and William Ury already pointed
out that parties should analyze the underlying interests behind their positions. One may
even want to take this approach one step further and think about the parties´ underlying needs
and motives. This psychological perspective with a clear focus on human motives and needs
may pave the way in finding mutually satisfying agreements in negotiations on commons and
shared resources. Dean Pruitt and Peter Carnevale describe three
strategies how parties could benefit from knowing the other partie´s interests, motives
or needs. First, the authors suggest that the understanding of the other parties´ interests
may help them to engage in the so-called strategy of logrolling. When parties logroll, they
offer resources that they value less in exchange for gaining resources that they value more.
In other words, in the trade-off process of logrolling the loss of some low-preference
resources is traded for gains of other high-preference resources, resulting in an overall gain for
all parties. For instance, if two parties negotiate on the access to a border river
and one party has a high preference for electricity generation while the other party has a high
preference for agricultural irrigation, one party may build a power station on the upper
river portion while the other party may use the water for its agriculture at the lower
end of the river. Another way to take advantage when understanding
the other parties´ interests, motives and needs is the so-called strategy of “expanding
the pie”. When parties expand the pie, they increase the number of available resources
so that both sides can get what they want. Thus, if two parties negotiate on the distribution
of the small amount of water from a border river during summer times, they may decide to jointly
build a reservoir dam storing the water that accumulates during winter. Finally, parties may create new options for
integrative win-win agreements through adding additional resources to the negotiation that
have not been considered so far. This strategy of solving underlying concerns is similar
to the “expanding the pie” strategy; however, instead of increasing available resources,
this strategy aims at discovering new interest-relevant resources that have not been considered thus
far. For instance, if one party wants to have access to a border river for national security
reasons while the other party wants to have access to the river for economic reasons,
they may agree that both sides will have access to the border river. In addition they agree
that the river area will be declared as a demilitarized zone under the control of United Nations’ forces. Thus, the additional resource of UN military forces may help both parties to satisfy
their individual concerns. To sum up: Many social conflicts of resources
that seem to be intractable can be solved if parties take each other´s interests, motives
and needs into account. This holds true for negotiations on political or international
conflicts, as well as for negotiations on shared resources and Commons.

2 comments

It's half-time! Halfway through our Negotiations-Course, the fourth phase has already started! How can you augment resources while considering the interests, needs and motives of different stakeholders? Check out the new lectures of David Bollier and Prof. Dr. Roman Troetschel to find out:

Schön gelesen. Gutes Beispiel, wie man es nicht machen sollte. Danke dafür. Kann ich gut in meinem Unterricht verwenden.

Leave a Reply