Positive Effects of Within-Group Cooperation on Between-Group Negotiation1


  • 1

    Portions of this paper were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Anaheim, 1988. This research was supported by a grant from the University of Illinois Research Board to the second author.

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Patricia Keenan, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 E. Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820.


The present study simulated an organizational dispute to test two sets of alternative hypotheses regarding the effects of within-group cooperation and conflict on a subsequent negotiation with an out-group. The first set of hypotheses concerned in-group cooperation. We expected that either (a) in-group cooperation would produce greater cooperation toward an out-group, the result of a carryover effect; or (b) in-group cooperation would increase group cohesiveness and strengthen group boundaries, and thus produce greater competitiveness toward an out-group. The second set of alternative hypotheses concerned in-group conflict. We expected that either (a) in-group conflict would produce greater competitiveness toward an out-group, the result of a carry-over effect; or (b) in-group conflict would decrease group cohesiveness and weaken group boundaries, and thus produce less competitiveness toward an out-group. Subjects in three-person groups negotiated first with one another on a cooperative or competitive task, and then as a group, with another group. The data supported the carryover hypothesis for the effects of both in-group cooperation and conflict. Groups that experienced internal cooperation were more cooperative in the subsequent between-group negotiation and, to a lesser extent, groups that experienced internal conflict were more competitive in the subsequent between-group negotiation, relative to a control condition that had no prior in-group negotiation. Taken together, the results were consistent with recent research on dispute intervention that suggested that mediators in between-group conflict should foster within-group cooperation prior to between-group negotiations.