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Over recent decades an alternative approach to traditional distributive bargaining has been developed. Labelled as ‘principled negotiation’ (Patton: 1985) or ‘interest-based bargaining’ (Fisher, Ury and Patton: 1991), this form of negotiation is well suited to collaboration with its focus upon integrative ‘Win/Win’ rather than Zero/Sum outcomes (Timothy Rauenbusch: 2000).

Also referred to as integrative bargaining, negotiation on merits, and mutual gains bargaining (Ancona, Friedman and Kolb: 1991) this model of negotiation adopts a collaborative problem solving approach by attempting to meet the substantive and legitimate interests of each party involved. As the purpose of this approach to negotiation is to achieve ‘win/win’ outcomes while preserving relationships and creating long lasting agreements, it is more commonly referred to as mutual gains bargaining/negotiation.

Unlike the value claiming trait of Distributional bargaining, Mutual Gains Negotiation strives to expand the pie by ‘creating value’. The pie eventually must be divided however, and distributional bargaining still has a place in this process. Mutual gains bargaining improves upon distributional bargaining by building the pie, leaving a larger slice (more value) for each party to distribute.

According to Fisher et al (1991) the core elements of the Principled Negotiation model are:

             Separating people from the problem
            Focusing upon interests, not positions
            Generating Options for mutual gain
            Insist upon using objective criteria or fair standards
             As part of this series, we will discuss the above mentioned elements of Principled

               Negotiation in more detail and reach further into the concept of Mutual Gains

 bargaining in the context of the following 7 key elements of Negotiation:
            Relationship
            Communication
            Alternatives
            Interests
            Options
            Legitimacy – Fair objective standards
            Commitment

If you would like to have Peter Spence as a speaker, advisor/coach or trainer at your company, group or organisation please contact Peter via the website contact form or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and learn to become a better negotiator.