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Groups, Decision Rules, and Negotiation Outcomes: Simulating the Negotiator's Dilemma



The negotiator's dilemma is a vexing problem (structurally similar to the prisoner's dilemma), but it is made more complicated by the fact that many negotiations involve teams of negotiators. Although it is widely recognized that the behavior of groups of people can deviate in important ways from the behavior of individuals, the implications of this for the negotiator's dilemma are unclear.

For this article, I have used a computer simulation to explore the impact of different decision rules (majority rule, consensus, and weakest link) on how the approach of groups to negotiations might differ. The results suggest that the use of different decision rules can greatly complicate negotiations. While the majority rule is quite versatile in multiple contexts, a pairing of weakest link and consensus decision rules is highly problematic for finding a negotiated settlement.