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Beyond Frogs and Scorpions: A Risk-Based Framework for Understanding Negotiating Counterparts' Ethical Motivations



Managing the flow of valid information is one of the biggest challenges that negotiators face. The high incidence of questionable or unethical negotiating tactics has been well documented, but ways of dealing with the deceptive practices of a counterpart have received comparatively little attention. In this article, we suggest that, in addition to avoidance and confrontation, negotiators typically attempt to manage the unethical tendencies of their counterparts through twelve neutralizing approaches. These approaches are based on four types of perceived risk that counterparts often consider when deciding whether to use ethically ambiguous negotiation tactics: risks to immediate or short-term goals/tasks; risks to immediate or short-term relationship(s); risks to future or long-term goals/tasks; and, risks to future or long-term relationships. By applying expectancy theory, resource dependency theory, social identity theory, and social network theory to this framework, we have developed propositions related to these twelve neutralizing approaches. We also discuss the opportunities and challenges related to evaluating these propositions in future research.