Handbook of Research on Negotiation
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Handbook of Research on Negotiation

Edited by Mara Olekalns and Wendi L. Adair

Leading international scholars give insight into both the factors known to shape negotiation and the questions that we need to answer as we strive to deepen our understanding of the negotiation process. This Handbook provides analyses of the negotiation process from four distinct perspectives: negotiators’ cognition and emotion, social processes and social inferences, communication processes, and complex negotiations, covering trade, peace, environment, and crisis negotiations.
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Chapter 19: Guiding new directions in negotiation research: a negotiation context levels framework

Wendi L. Adair and Mara Olekalns


The complexity of negotiation is often attributed to three factors: (1) parties have distinct interests, (2) parties do not have full information about their counterparts, and (3) parties are dependent on one another for agreement (Lax and Sebenius, 1986). The Handbook of Negotiation Research traces the roots of negotiation complexity even deeper by reviewing research that has uncovered many more sources of complexity at four levels. Factors that create uncertainty for negotiators and challenges for researchers include, but are not limited to, emotion, cognitive biases, and motivation at the level of the individual negotiator; power dynamics and trust at the level of social interaction; the impact of communication medium on verbal and nonverbal expression and strategy interpretation at the level of communication processes; and the ever-changing face of the institutional environment within which complex negotiations occur. What highlights the complexity of negotiation even further, as made salient by all of our authors, is that these factors occur simultaneously, interacting at different levels, and changing over time. In our introductory chapter, we discussed three themes that appear across the different Handbook sections: temporal horizons, uncertainty and sense-making, and context and subjectivity. We traced the appearance of these three themes across levels of negotiation with increasing complexity: the individual, the social interaction, the communication process, and complex negotiations.

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