by Dr. Donavan Ropp

I. INTRODUCTION TO "NEGOTIATION AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT": Understanding basic concepts within a discipline is always an important starting position when tackling a new subject area. The study of "Negotiation and Conflict Management" is no different. The subject area has matured into an academic area of interest from offerings of university classes to doctoral and post-doctoral research programs at many prestigious educational institutions, both nationally and internationally. This maturing process has taken approximately 25 years from infancy to it present status. In previous times "negotiation" was thought to be a thing limited to labor disputes and international diplomacy. Today, "negotiation" is accepted in all the many facets of human activity that evolve, starting from one-on-one personal relationships and advancing to numerous multi-party interactions which we all experience in our daily lives. Cognizant practitioners of the "art and science" include government, business, industry, organizations, interest groups, institutions of various descriptions, and Aunt Martha. Everybody is doing it. It has become an accepted phenomenon within society.

A. THE CONCEPT OF NEGOTIATION: The typical dictionary approach to defining "negotiation" leads to the idea that it is an activity which "tries to reach an agreement or arrangement by discussion." Roger Fisher, the author of one of our textbooks, looks at negotiation as "the basic means of getting what you want from others." He states that it is essentially "back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed." Other experts describe it as "the process used when human beings exchange ideas for the purpose of changing a relationship." or "getting what someone else want." As indirectly alluded to previously, we are all negotiators and negotiation is a fact of life. Everyone negotiates something every day; it is an integral part of every human activity. The fact is, people negotiate even when they don't think of themselves as doing so. In reality, figuratively speaking, the world is one big negotiation table. We shall be developing the concept of negotiation throughout the course.

B. THE CONCEPT OF CONFLICT: Again, the garden variety approach of defining (via the dictionary) "conflict" leads to the idea that it is an activity which leads to a "fight or struggle" brought forth by disagreement between people with different ideas or beliefs. This antiseptic approach to "conflict" does not tell the "whole" story; and now, for the rest of the story! Even though the term may be difficult to definitively describe or label, "we know it when we see it, and we certainly feel it." The fact is that "conflict" appears everywhere. Conflict is a natural part of being; it is just there. It has become the critical issue of out time. Obviously, it's not a question of whether you have "conflict" in your life. It's more of what you do with that "conflict" and how effectively you deal with it that makes the difference.

1. Roger Fisher and Conflict: Our textbook author describes "conflict" as a growth industry. He suggests that "everyone wants to participate in decisions that effect them." He adds that fewer and fewer people will accept decisions dictated by someone else. This brings forth the fact that "people differ" (what a startling revelation). Technology, science, telecommunication, present day travel, etc. have certainly made it easier to contend.

2. Positive/Negative/Neutral: "Conflict" is a neutral thing. It is not positive or negative, though the way it is related to may be such. The underlying theme throughout all of human history has been "conflict." It is also the primary motivator for change. "Conflict" has brought about some of the greatest changes in society which are positive.

a. Ancient Times: (i) agricultural revolution; (ii) use of fire in daily life; (iii) first domestication of draft animals; (iv) the copper age; (iv) the bronze age; (v) the iron age; (vi) the Code of Hammurabi; (vii) Codex Justinianus; (viii) the Doomsday Survey; (the Magna Carta); (ix) and the list goes on. Given human nature, the continual pattern in these instances (and an infatesimal number of happenings from the ancient world clear down to present happenings) appears to be "conflict-negotiation-advancement."

C. COMPETITION: Competition, which is related to the term "conflict," usually refers to a contest in which people try to do better than their rivals. It may be a contest, a race, all the way to a war. Again, everyone has a "competition strategy." How has handles competition may be a major factor in determining future conflict. This concept will be developed throughout the course.

D. DISPUTE RESOLUTION (SETTLEMENT) SYSTEMS: All societies (past and present) have developed some type of a "dispute resolution system." Taking care of disputes within any society helps to preserve, and sometimes enhance, the very essence of that society. Sub-parts of society, such as family units or professions, also have "dispute resolution systems." Some are formal and others are some degree less than formal. In international conflicts the choices may be diplomacy, an international court or tribunal; or self-help through war. In the United States, there is the formal Judicial System and the courts. When there is conflict, on any level, it is always helpful to understand what "dispute resolution systems" are available.

1. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert: William Ury, one of the authors of our textbook (and an anthropologist), reviewed the present day "dispute resolution system" of the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, an indigenous tribe of natives in Africa. He spent three months, on location, collecting information pertaining to these "so-called" primitive people (hunters and gatherers) and their "so-called" law of the jungle. Here is what he found:

a. There was no evidence that these "hunters/gatherers" and their ancestors are/were as warlike as previously imagined by the Western World.

b. He interviewed the four (4) old "wise men" from the tribe in detail relating to "dispute" systems. First, they believe that disputes are from bad gods who destroy the work of the good gods.

c. One factual situation discussed goes as follows: A hunter shot an animal which died on the land of a neighbor. Under local Bushmen custom the animal becomes the property of the land holder. The hunter improperly goes on the land and carries the animal off. Under tribal custom, there is a call for three members of the tribe to witness that there has been an offense. The offender hunter is admonished by the three witnesses. If the same offense happens a second time, four witnesses admonish the wrongdoer. Such an event has never happened the third time within the tribe.

d. If a tribesman's wife is kidnapped, he retrieves his wife and moves far away so that such an event will not repeat itself.

e. The question was asked about two (2) disputing tribesmen not being able to resolve a dispute. In such as situation, a pow-wow type of meeting is held in the middle of the village with all adult men and women taking part. Every one talks until the dispute is settled. If it cannot be resolved, the tribe calls for a dance. The gods take the spirits of the people falling into a trance during the dance. When they regain consciousness and awake they are able to use the gods advice and resolve the dispute.

f. No one in the tribe has ever been murdered because of a dispute. In fact the word "murder" is not a part of the tribes vocabulary.

[NOTE ONE: In anthropology this area of study would relate to "law and social control." In actuality, all societies uphold some type of normative expectations about proper behavior, and have the means to enforce those standards. Therefore, all societies, from this perspective, have "law," even if they lack a formal, written legal code or a set of formal `judicial institutions. In order for a society to function, the full potential of human behaviors must be narrowed down to that which is socially tolerable. There must always be a degree of "social control" to guide the individual to conformity with the norms of his or her culture. These formal and informal methods of control within the society bring forth the reality of its own "dispute settlement" system.]

[NOTE TWO: From a social psychology (branch of psychology concerned with the way individuals' thoughts, feeling, and behaviors are influenced by others) perspective such issues would be addressed under the headings of conformity, compliance, and obedience. "Conformity" occurs when individuals adopt the attitudes or behavior of others because of real or imagined pressure. "Compliance" occurs when you go along with a request made of you from a person who does not have specific authority over you. Compliance has been used to encourage people to buy things that they do not need or to do things they do not really want to do. "Obedience" is a form of compliance that occurs when people follow direct commands, usually from someone in a position of authority.]

[NOTE THREE: Sociology would rely on social structure (relationships and individuals) as related to culture and values, norms, and mores. "Values" pertain to central beliefs about acceptable or unacceptable, good or bad, desirable or undesirable, etc. "Norms are agreed upon behaviors on how to act. "Mores are behaviors that deal with moral standards (e.g., stealing, cheating, lying, etc.). Sociology would also address subcultures within society and their distinctive dispute settlement systems.]

2. The above examples are to demonstrate that there are "dispute resolution/settlement systems" at all levels of civilization and have been throughout human history. Additionally, there are systems within our subcultures, such as the government (and within the government), on our jobs (al all levels), and within our family, each addressing disputes in their own unique manner. Later in the course we shall address other cultural features which apply to negotiation and conflict management.

II. INTERDISCIPLINARY IN APPROACH: Today, the study of "Negotiation and Conflict Management" is generally considered to be interdisciplinary; that is, its general "subject matter" converses and traverses across multiple areas of formal academic study. It can no longer be viewed or conveniently categorized as solely a social, political, legal, or cultural phenomena. "Negotiation and Conflict Management," as an entity, has expanded its identity to include a cohesive grouping of many topics from portions of many traditional academic offerings which are integrated into its basic study. The study of "Negotiation and Conflict Management" is INTERDEPENDENT!! The following is a brief listing (certainly not met to be conclusive) of "Negotiation and Conflict Management" topics which are presently and continually be researched and which form the basis of an academic discipline.

A. COMMUNICATIONS: Much of the basis of the discipline relates to communication. This includes verbal and nonverbal communication skills, rhetoric, listening skills, argumentation and debate, and the study of semantics. The whole notion of "communication" as a transactional process presupposes individual differences which must be negotiated so that people can develop common meanings. There cannot be differences without conflict. With this approach, it is not possible to understand the dynamics of communication transactions without coming to grips with the notion of conflict. People are different, and individual differences must be negotiated to develop common meanings. Communication research relies on negotiation and conflict principles and studies, and negotiation and conflict research relies on communication studies.

B. PHILOSOPHY: Here, the study of "ethics" becomes very insightful when applying its many principles to the negotiation field. Included is non-normative (scientific/descriptive), normative (standards), consequential/ deontological theories, and the area of metaphysics and epistemological questions.

C. PSYCHOLOGY: Areas of interest include personality (humanistic-cognitive), motivation and emotion, sensation and perception, stress, and thinking and learning theory.

D. SOCIOLOGY: Important contributions include social stratification, population demography, social structures, and equality situations in race, gender, etc.

E. ANTHROPOLOGY: Included in this instance is the study of culture, mores, customs, and norms.

F. ECONOMICS: Most important in this field is game theory and cost/benefit/alternative analysis.

G. POLITICAL SCIENCE: The study of power, right, and interests contribute important information to the study of Negotiation and Conflict Management.

H. LAW: Law and other professions have made important contributions in the area of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This topic generally refers to "non-court" methods of resolving (settling) serious and not so serious disputes. The areas of negotiation and conflict are effectively addressed in the study of ADR.

III. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS: The story of balancing the forces of independence and interdependence is a major issue within devising conflict management systems. The following is a short addition to the information presented in the first article of the text by Rubin.

A. INTEGRATIVE APPROACH OF NEGOTIATION: Terms which identify the "integrative approach of negotiation" include: win-win, joint gain, interdependent method, interests, principled negotiations, collaboration, cooperative, riciracol, joint problem solving, and soft bargaining.

B. DISTRIBUTIVE APPROACH OF NEGOTIATION: Terms associated with the "distributive approach of negotiation" include: zero-sum bargaining, individualistic orientation, maximization theory, position, pure competition, traditional approach, adversarial moves, confrontational moves, combative, conquering, and hard bargaining.


1. There are More than Two Models: There are not just two approaches; there is a whole range of approaches. Pure bargaining is at one end of the range of negotiation; joint problem solving is at the other end. Usually, a negotiator is working someplace in the middle of this identified range where the real trading and finalization of negotiations predominates. You give something in return for something else; they do the same. This statement should not, in any way, diminish the importance of focusing on the "integrative" techniques of negotiation. The caution here is to know and understand the different negotiation techniques so that you will be better prepared for your next negotiation--and whatever technique is prevalent. MOST PEOPLE SELECT THE NEGOTIATION APPROACH/TECHNIQUE THAT MAKES THEM MOST CONFORTABLE, BUT GOOD NEGOTIATORS SELECT THE ONE THAT FITS THE SITUATION.

2. Negotiation Approaches are (Usually) Actually a Mixed Bag:

IV. MASLOW'S THEORY OF "HIERARCHY OF NEEDS RELATING TO HUMAN MOTIVATION: The humanistic psychologist, Abraham Maslow, developed a hierarchy of needs to describe human motivation. According to Maslow, human needs are arranged in a hierarchy. People must satisfy their basic needs before they can satisfy their higher-order needs. Individuals progress upward in the hierarchy when lower needs are satisfied, but they may regress to lower levels if basic needs are no longer satisfied. As one moves up the hierarchy, each level of needs becomes less biological and more social in origin. In negotiation theory, the probability is that there will be more individualistic intensity and a higher degree "need" to win at the lower (basic) level. At that level one is looking for "survival," so the probability is that one will "fight" harder to obtain the win. The hierarchy includes the following general classifications:

A. HOMEOSTATIC (PHYSIOLOGICAL): The needs identified in this instance are that of survival! This is the low end of the scale. Survival needs include the basic physical requirements of food, shelter, clothes, and sex.

B. SAFETY AND SECURITY: The "safety" needs require multiple levels of security. Individuals seek physical seek physical safety; they need to be free of fear from bodily harm. They also seek routine, predictability, and order in their world. Moreover, persons require some level of job or financial security, as is expressed in the common desires for tenure, seniority, savings accounts, and various insurance measures.

C. LOVE AND BELONGING: "Love and belonging" needs reflect individuals' desire for close and meaningful human relationships. A person "will hunger for affectionate relations with people in general, namely, for a place in her group, and will strive with great intensity to achieve this goal. There is the need to feel a part of a group, and the need to belong to and with someone else.

D. ESTEEM: The need here is self-respect, feeling personal worth, adequacy, and competence. The "esteem" needs may be classified into two subsets. "There are, first, the desire for strength, for achievement, for adequacy, for mastery and competence,` for confidence in the face of the world, and for independence and freedom. Second, we have what we may call the desire for reputation or prestige, status, dominance, recognition, attention, importance, or appreciation."

E. SELF-ACTUALIZATION: Self-actualization refers to an advanced state of personality development in which individuals seek self-fulfillment and accomplishment through personal growth. Self-actualized persons desire "to become everything that [they are] capable of becoming."