Finding and Using Negotiation Power

Finding and Using Negotiation Power


Power: The ability of one person or group to cause another person or group to do something that they otherwise might not have done.

Why Is Power Important to Negotiators?

Seeking power in negotiation arises from one of two perceptions:

1. The negotiator believes he or she currently has less power than the other party.

2. The negotiator believes he or she needs more power than the other party.

A Definition of Power

•      “an actor…has power in a given situation (situational power) to the degree that he can satisfy the purposes (goals, desires, or wants) that he is attempting to fulfill in that situation”

•      Two perspectives on power:

–    Power used to dominate and control the other– “power over”

–    Power used to work together with the other–“power with” – to level the playing field

A Definition of Power

Types of Power

Sources of Power –
How People Acquire Power

•      Informational sources of power

•      Personal sources of power

•      Power based on position in an organization

•      Relationship-based sources of power

•      Contextual sources of power

Informational Sources of Power

•      Information is the most common source of power

–    Derived from the negotiator’s ability to assemble and organize data to support his or her position, arguments, or desired outcomes

–    A tool to challenge the other party’s position or desired outcomes, or to undermine the effectiveness of the other’s negotiating arguments

Informational Sources of Power

Power Based on Personality
and Individual Differences

•      Personal orientation

•      Cognitive orientation

–   Ideologies about power

•      Motivational orientation

–   Specific motives to use power

•      Disposition and skills

–   Orientation to cooperation/competition

•      Moral orientation

–   Philosophical orientation to power use

Power Based on
Position in an Organization

Two major sources of power in an organization:

•      Legitimate power which is grounded in the title, duties, and responsibilities of a job description and “level” within an organization hierarchy

•      Power based on the control of resources associated with that position

Power Based on
Position in an Organization

Power Based on
Position in an Organization

Power Based on Resource Control

•      People who control resources have the capacity to give them to someone who will do what they want, and withhold them (or take them away) from someone who doesn’t do what they want.

Power Based on
Resource Control

•      Some of the most important resources:

–    Money

–    Supplies

–    Human capital

–    Time

–    Equipment

–    Critical services

–    Interpersonal support

Power Based on Relationships

•      Goal interdependence

–    How parties view their goals

•      Referent power

–    Based on an appeal to common experiences, common past, common fate, or membership in the same groups.

•      Networks

–    Power is derived from whatever flows through that particular location in the structure (usually information and resources)

Contextual Sources of Power

Power is based in the context, situation or environment in which negotiations take place.


–    An alternative deal that a negotiator might pursue if she or he does not come to agreement with the current other party


–    Often contains implicit “rules” about use of power

•Agents, constituencies and external audiences

Power Moves

Power moves are designed to bring reluctant bargainers back to the table.

Types of power moves:

–   Incentive

–   Pressure tactics

–   Use of allies

Dealing with Others
Who Have More Power

•   Protect themselves:

–  Never do an all-or-nothing deal

–  Make yourself bigger: forming coalitions

–  Keep in mind the key issues

–  Remember resistance and target point, however, be creative.

•   Cultivate the BATNA

–  Good information is always a source of power

Dealing with Others
Who Have More Power

•      Formulate a “ trip wire alert system”

•      Correct the power imbalance

–   Low power parties taking power

–   High power parties transferring power

–   Third party managing the transfer and balance of power