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The evolution of negotiation Negotiation is a process of interpersonal exchange so frequently encountered at every level of society that its impact on human welfare cannot be overestimated Pruitt 1981 In 1947 Zartman argued that ours is an age of negotiation The validity of this statement remains today since negotiation is a decision-making process commonly used to select courses of action or to distribute resources Ury 1991 As such ones ability to negotiate well has serious implications for ones personal and professional well-being Despite the fact that most of us negotiate every day negotiators continue to obtain suboptimal outcomes suggesting that practice does not always make perfect Thompson 2001 makes this point when she notes that Raffia 1982 has likened negotiation to a dance stating most of us have never taken lessons or know what to do once we find ourselves on the dance floor Thompson 2001 p34 As a result scholars from an array of disciplines eg psychology economics industrial and organizational behavior sociology communications and law continue to investigate the variables that account for negotiator success Before scholars can generate a useful theory regarding negotiator success and provide prescriptive advice for obtaining it they must be clear about what success is and how it is operationalized This paper examines the evolution of thought regarding 1 the operationalization of negotiator success and the implication these current notions of success have on theory and on research 2 the interpretation of empirical findings 3 beliefs about effective strategies and 4 attributions about performance and prescriptive advice In essence this paper argues that the definition of negotiator success has changed over time due to the failure to distinguish between negotiator objectives and strategies used for obtaining the objectives This paper will further argue that the confounding of these distinct constructs has inadvertently led to a counterproductive measure of negotiator success ie a joint-gain bias and thus reliance on a restricted and sometimes counterproductive subset
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