E-Negotiation Support Systems Overview
Zhen Wang (National University of Singapore, Singapore), John Lim (National University of Singapore, Singapore) and Elizabeth Koh (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2009
In this fast moving global working environment, negotiators are benefiting from the pervasive application of computers and networks in the workplace. There is an increasing usage of E-negotiation Support Systems (ENS) in both internal and external negotiations. ENS are computer systems that help negotiators achieve better agreements by enhancing their information processing capabilities and communication with other parties. Recent empirical research on ENS has shown that the employment of ENS facilitates the improvement of the negotiation process and outcome (e.g., Delaney, Foroughi, & Perkins, 1997; Goh, Teo, Wu, &Wei, 2000; Rangaswamy & Shell, 1997). This article identifies the key areas of ENS research, the corresponding constructs, findings and challenges. Finally, it proposes an integrative framework of ENS research for future research.
Despite being a common task for managers, negotiation is challenging, complex and effort demanding. Negotiations have been studied from many perspectives including sociology, psychology, political science, economics, applied mathematics, computer science and artificial intelligence. Negotiation is “a process in the public domain where two parties, with supporters of various kinds, attempt to reach a joint decision on issues in dispute” (Gulliver, 1979, p. 79). It is a special form of communication that centers on perceived incompatibilities and focuses on reaching mutually acceptable agreements (Putnam & Roloff, 1992). Through a negotiation, two or more parties can resolve conflicts and enter into contracts (Walters, Stuhlmacher, & Meyer, 1998).
Theoretical Perspectives of Negotiation
In the literature of negotiation research, the descriptive model and the prescriptive model form two major schools. While the descriptive model focuses on the process of negotiation, the prescriptive model emphasizes the outcomes of negotiation.
The descriptive model of negotiation is widely studied in social behavior science, sociology, and psychology. Based on sociological and psychological theories of learning and joint decision-making, the descriptive model seeks to describe what actually happens in a negotiation process (Weigand, Schoop, de Moor, & Dignum, 2003). Researchers within this stream focus on individual differences (Hausken, 1997), contextual characteristics of negotiation, situational determinants (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986), and cognitive processes of judgment, behavior, and outcomes in negotiation (Thompson, 1990).
The prescriptive model of negotiation, in contrast, stems from the studies of Game Theory, social psychology and organizational behavior. Its fundamental assumption is axiomatic rationality, where participants will always choose the options that are in their best interests according to the particular quality measurement instrument chosen. It is normative in the sense that it prescribes what negotiators should do to achieve the desired results (Weigand et al., 2003). While the theoretical objective of the prescriptive model is to predict the processes and outcomes of negotiation, the practical goal is to help people negotiate more effectively (Raiffa, 1982).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Prescriptive Model of Negotiation Research: A research stream focusing on the outcomes of negotiation.
E-Negotiation Support Systems (ENS): Are computer systems that enable negotiators to achieve better agreement by enhancing the negotiators’ information processing capability and communication with the other party.
Cognitive Information Processing: Refers to how an individual absorbs and compiles the environmental inputs in order to make sense of the negotiation context.
Descriptive Model of Negotiation Research: A research stream focusing on the process of negotiation.
Negotiation: Is a process where two or more parties attempt to reach a joint decision on issues in dispute.
Negotiation Planning: Refers to a process where an individual identifies systematic mechanisms for developing and implementing bargaining strategies.
Contract Balance: Is the absolute value of differences between the total utility scores achieved by each negotiation party.