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 and learn to become a better negotiator.

The key to success

SPANS will provide you with the key to negotiation success by helping you to become a more proficient negotiator, assist you to achieve better outcomes from your negotiations and strengthen your relationship network.

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