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InterNeg Negotiation Glossary©

A possible decision that may be selected in decision-making or proposed in negotiation. It comprises attribute values, such as price, color, weight, quantity, etc. An alternative that is proposed by a negotiator as a potential agreement is an offe
A settlement process in dispute resolution in which the parties present their case or their final offers to a third party. The third party has a power to impose a solution (compromise).
A construct that is used to distinguish entities (e.g., objects, goods or individuals). It represents a characteristic or feature of an entity that is relevant for the decision maker. Attributes which are selected by the negotiators to agree on their values are also known as issues.
Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement is a decision alternative, which the negotiator can achieve, if the negotiation in which she is engaged in fails. It is an alternative which is available, e.g., it has been offered by someone other than the person she negotiates with. The negotiator should not accept any agreement that is worse for her than BATNA.
Actions which purpose is to influence the counterpart to make concessions but which have little or no substance (e.g., promise to do something in distance feature or to quit the negotiation).
A negotiation style named for Boulware, former CEO of General Electric, in which the negotiator’s first offer is also her final offer. The offer change is made only if the negotiator is presented with substantive (factual) information that she did not take into account when making her offer.
A need for, or desire to, immediate answers and resolutions to a particular situation in order to bring a conclusion.
A subgroup of two or more negotiators (parties) who join together and pool their resources to influence the outcomes of multilateral negotiations.
An obligation or pledge to do or deliver something.
Compensation, nonspecific
A negotiation approach in which one party receives what they want and the other party is compensated (repaid) in some other way that is relevant to this party. The compensation involves one or more issues but only those that are not subject to negotiations.
A compromise is a complete or partial agreement that is jointly achieved by negotiators after exchanging proposals.
An offer which, according to the negotiator who proposes it, should be considered better by her counterpart than the offer previously made by the negotiator. In multi-issue negotiation, the negotiator may think she made a concession when in fact she made a reverse concession.
Confirmation error
A tendency to seek supporting arguments for someone's belief that may lead one to ignore or discount information that is relevant but not supportive.
Cost cutting
An approach in integrative negotiations in which the costs of accepting a compromise are reduced, eliminated, or compensated. One party achieves what they want and the other party's costs are reduced.
Fixed pie assumption
The belief that the set of possible packages is given and cannot be enlarged and increasing the value for both parties is not possible at the same time. The underlying assumption is that the parties' interests are in full (strict) opposition. This assumption underlies distributive or competitive negotiations.
Focal values
Arbitrary values such as salient numbers that are considered valid or typical.
Intangible issues
Issues which are not negotiable. They describe the parties' perceptions of themselves and their counterparts and of the process. They may be issues that cannot be clearly described indicating the parties’ perceptions of themselves, their counterparts, or the process.
Inefficient agreement
An agreement that is dominated by at least one other alternative, i.e., there is at least another alternative that is better for one party than the accepted agreement and not worse for any other party.
A person or a group of people, often known as the third party, who intervenes between two or more parties.
Attribute which is the subject of the negotiation and values (options) of which have to be agreed on by the participants. An option which is proposed is a partial offer, if one option for each issue is proposed, then we have a complete package (offer).
Latent conflict
Conflict that exists but is not perceived.
A concession process that is possible in multiattribute (multi-issue) negotiations. It involves making a trade-off on two or more issues by the negotiator. The negotiator offers a concession on one issue but requests that her counterpart makes a concession on another issue. Logrolling may involve making a trade-off on the low priority issues for the purpose of gaining on higher priority issues.
Negotiation dance
A metaphor of the process of making offers and counter-offers by the negotiating parties.
A combination of options (a package or an alternative) that is sent by one negotiator to the other. The offer may contain one option for each issue under considerations or some issues may not be present in the offer. In the latter case we have a partial offer which is typical for sequential negotiations.
One of the values that an issue can take. For example, the issue "Tolerable product failure rate" may have the options "3%", "5%" and "10%".
Also called an alternative, the difference is that it includes only issue values. It is a particular bundle of options that has been selected across several or all the negotiated issues. If values for all issues are included, then it is a complete package; otherwise it is a partial (incomplete) package. An example of a package is given in the table below:
Price $3000
Payment Upon delivery
Failure rate 5%
The basis of a person's influence over another; the ability to influence someone else's decisions.
Power, coercive
The ability to influence the behaviour of, and decisions made by, another party, such as by punishing this person or threatening with punishment.
Prenegotiation is the initial phase of a negotiation. It refers to the period (prior to exchange of any offers) when one prepares for the negotiation. Some activities involved in this phase include problem definition, preference elicitation and evaluation of alternative packages.
A "settlement" is the same as an agreement or compromise, and "post-settlement" refers to the period after the first compromise has been achieved.
A simplified form of the preference representation used to compare alternatives (offers). Often rating values are scaled between 0 and 100 (or o and 10); the higher the rating is the better the offer.
Reservation level
The maximum (minimum) value of a single attribute (issue) that the negotiator cannot violate for a specific reason.
Reverse concession
An offer made by the negotiator which her counterpart considers as being worse than her earlier offer.
Sequential negotiations
Negotiation process in which offers comprise incomplete packages, that is, they discuss only one or a few issues at a time. After the parties agree on the discussed issues, other issues are introduced and negotiated.
A method used to organize the negotiation process in order to achieve its stated objectives. It provides a framework for the selection of various activities and provides rationale for their selection
A narrowly focused plan of actions or the selection of a specific activity undertaken to achieve a milestone or a particular reaction from the counterpart
A trade-off is an exchange process in which a decision maker gives up partly on some issues so as to gain on other issues.
Utility function
A "utility function" is a measurement that expresses the subjective value (worth) of different packages (alternatives) by using a numerical scale. The numerical scale used is often arbitrary, typically ranging either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 100. The minimum number expresses the least desirable and least preferred package. The highest number represents the most desirable and thus, preferred package.
Utility function, concave
The utility value decreases marginally, i.e., additional gains bring smaller increases in the utility.
Winner's curse
A situation in which a negotiator makes an offer that is immediately accepted by the other parties; the immediate acceptance suggests that the negotiator may have offered too much.
The Zone of Possible Agreements, also called the contract zone, is the set of alternatives which are acceptable to the negotiating parties; it is the unions of the parties' sets of acceptable alternatives.


  May 26, 2017
© Copyright 1996-2017 Gregory Kersten & The InterNeg Group
InterNeg Research Centre, Concordia University (Montreal)