Inter-Team Negotiation Support, Coalition Formation, and Negotiation Outcomes: An Empirical Study

Inter-Team Negotiation Support, Coalition Formation, and Negotiation Outcomes: An Empirical Study

Xiaojia Guo (National University of Singapore, Singapore), John Lim (National University of Singapore, Singapore) and Fei Wang (Application Consultant, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-962-5.ch020
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This chapter is an attempt to investigate the role of negotiation support systems (NSS) in supporting inter-team negotiations, which have become commonplace for today’s business negotiations. Inter-team negotiations differ from simple dyadic negotiations, and are associated with enormous complexity introduced by the negotiating team dynamics. When there are three or more members in a negotiating team, coalition formation by team members stands out as an intriguing phenomenon, of which cultural diversity is a primary antecedent. NSS through altering coalition formation dynamics have important impacts on various negotiation outcomes. An experiment was conducted to test the authors’ research model and hypotheses. A content analysis was undertaken to measure the extent of coalition formation. Besides the quantitative approach, a qualitative analysis was also conducted to further enhance our exploratory efforts in examining the phenomenon. The results provide initial evidence of the usefulness of NSS in supporting inter-team negotiations, and have both theoretical and practical implications.
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Negotiation has been treated as persuasive social processes, involving dyads, small groups, organizations or governments in an attempt to “define or redefine the terms of their interdependence” (Walton & McKersie, 1965 p. 3). Much research on cognitive and social processes of negotiation has been conducted in the context of dyadic interpersonal negotiations. However, today’s organizations are increasingly relying on teams as the prevalent mode for negotiations. In line with Lewicki et al. (2003), we adopt the term inter-team negotiation to describe the situations where two or more co-negotiators sharing interests and priorities negotiate with two or more co-negotiators on the other side who share their own interests and priorities. A few negotiation researchers have looked into inter-team negotiations (see Lewicki et al., 2003 for a review). Nonetheless, there is an absence of the examination into the intra-team dynamics, which constitute an important level of analysis in the study of inter-team negotiations. When there are three or more members in a negotiating team, the phenomenon of coalition formation could easily arise. In terms of group structure, coalition formation can be seen as a step upward from individual controls to integrated preferences, which if consistently occurs between a subset of members, is conceivably detrimental to the inter-team negotiation process and outcomes.

Negotiations are seen as complex, ill-structured and evolving tasks that require sophisticated decision support. Negotiation support systems (NSS) have thus been materialized as a special class of group support systems catered towards bargaining, consensus seeking and conflict resolution (Bui et al., 1992). As NSS have been mostly studied in dyadic interpersonal settings, it is necessary to examine their potential in supporting inter-team negotiations. An array of research issues would need to be addressed. Among these, coalition formation is a phenomenon unique to the team setting. This paper focuses on how NSS alter the extent of coalition formation in a negotiating team and in turn impact upon various negotiation outcomes.

Globalization has increased cultural diversity in organizations. Diverse culture introduces diverse perspectives which are conducive to organizational innovation. Notwithstanding the above, cultural diversity also introduces anxieties and conflicts. Cultural differences in negotiation have received considerable attention from researchers. However, cultural diversity and its consequences for inter-team negotiation have not yet been explored. We posit that cultural diversity in a negotiating team has a profound impact on the extent of coalition formation. Such postulation will be examined theoretically and empirically in this paper.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. The important literature that has informed the study will first be reviewed in the following section on conceptual background. Based on the extant literature, the research model is proposed and the hypotheses are derived. We then proceed to elucidate the research method of the study, which involves essentially a laboratory experiment in verifying the research model and hypotheses. Analysis is subsequently performed on the empirical data collected; implications of the empirical findings are discussed. The paper is then concluded, with limitations pinpointed and future research opportunities highlighted.

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