Emergent Negotiations: Stability and Shifts in Negotiation Dynamics


  • A substantial portion of this manuscript was written while the first author was a Visiting Scholar at the Dispute Resolution Research Center, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. We thank Jeanne Brett and the DRRC for their support during this visit, and we thank Debra Shapiro for her comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This research was partially supported by a research grant awarded to the first author by the Australian Research Council and the second author by the NSF (SBR96-1671). An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2003 International Association for Conflict Management Conference.

Mara Olekalns, Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, 200 Leicester St., Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia; e-mail: m.olekalns@mbs.edu.


Negotiation is a dynamic process in which negotiators change their strategies in response to each other. We believe mutual adaptation is best conceptualized as an emergent process and is a critical determinant of negotiators’ abilities to identify mutually beneficial solutions. We argue that three factors drive the process of negotiation and influence the quality of agreements: alignment of negotiators’ strategies across individuals (strategy sequences), alignment of negotiators’ strategies with the negotiation-wide dynamic (phases), and congruence of negotiators’ goals.