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Themes

  1. Negotiations and electronic media: Methodological foundations and taxonomy

    Negotiations increasingly rely on information systems: many such systems, including negotiation support systems, have been designed to provide various types of support. New technologies enable novel models of collaboration and negotiation that integrate results of the behavioural research and applied mathematics. This requires the design of protocols which are embedded in software and management of the models’ application. Negotiation protocols sequence actions and define rules of interaction between software and its users, among users who communicate via software, and among software programs. They relate results obtained in social sciences and humanities to formal models of negotiation and map both to software design.

    This project focusses on the assessment of the contributions of different representations of negotiators and negotiations, their applicability to various participants and processes, and the protocols that can be used to manage processes and interactions. Research on protocols, in particular comparison and integration of rules proposed in social sciences and those designed for information systems and negotiation software agents, will be undertaken with the objective of proposing different sets of protocols for different negotiation situations defined by the organizational, cultural and other settings.

  2. Experimental studies

    The study of negotiations aims at gaining insights into problem solving and decision-making, as well as conflict management and resolution. Observation of the impact of the context, situation and participants and characteristics on these processes constitutes an integral part of negotiation studies. ICTs allow for both new forms of negotiations and new types of experiments. The purpose of this project is to organize and coordinate a series of experiments in both local and international settings. It involves setting up ENSs, their modification, design of databases and questionnaires. It also involves construction of Web-sites through which subjects will negotiate and other sites for research collaboration. We have already set-up two such Web-sites; (1) InterNeg site which provides access to three ENSs and research materials; and (2) E-negotiation site which is mostly directed to research community. One more site will be con-structed for negotiation teaching and training. This site will also be used to conduct experiments.

    E-negotiation can be provided as a stand-alone service, such as the online service provided by lawyers. It can be an important component of supply chain management for the formation and execution of business contracts. It can also be the third party outsourcing service or a dispute resolution service that offers online mediation. Different e-negotiation models and protocols may be required for different types of transactions; but they must be based on the users' requirements, characteristics, economic value and practice. These characteristics and such issues as security, privacy, and trust of e-negotiation need to be addressed before any real business implementation. They will be studied using experiments with several ENS, including Aspire, Inspire, WebNS, INSS, Ines and other systems.

  3. Negotiators' characteristics and their use of technology

    Negotiation participants formulate offers and verbal messages which include supporting arguments, explanations, threats, demands, and so on. Using the data collected in Project 2, we will continue research on the relationships between the negotiators' characteristics and their decision-making activities, the negotiation process and its outcomes.

    One research direction will be the continuation of our studies on inter- and intra-cultural negotiations. In addition to the ongoing data collection from students who use Inspire in their courses in a not-controlled setting, several controlled experiments will be set up as part of the on-line negotiation course. This research will include a verification of models of culture and cultural predictions of negotiation styles in e-negotiations. We will also study the impact of other negotiators' characteristics, such as relative power, education, profession, and gender, and the relationship between the negotiators' approach to problem solving and the problem complexity.

    Another research direction concentrates on the impact of different technological solutions on negotiation atmosphere, efficiency and effectiveness. This includes the consideration of media (e.g., text, voice and video), support tools, interface, and expert support embedded in a knowledge-based component. This research will result in the verification of several concepts including the technology adoption model and its extensions, theory of planned behaviour; and the ENS assessment model. The methodology used in measuring end-user success will be applied to design assessment tools for studying the impact of e-negotiation on businesses including its cost and benefits.

  4. Communication patterns and text analysis

    Verbal communication plays a central role in the theory of negotiation . It is used for learning about the problem and participants; and is the basis for cooperation, knowledge sharing, etc. In organizational settings communication is the basis for cooperation to achieve common goals, coordination of activities, and knowledge transfer. Since verbal communication is such an important dimension of negotiation it cannot be ignored in e-negotiations.

    We propose to study verbal messages, collected by the Inspire system, using a natural language processing methodology. Over 5,000 transcripts will be analyzed for relation and relevance to the negotiation at hand. While general information extraction is a difficult research problem, and solved only partially in restricted applications, it is quite feasible to recognize elements of the Inspire messages that denote concepts in the underlying domain of fixed negotiation problem. For syntactic processing, we will construct a domain-specific knowledge-rich lexicon for use in syntactic and semantic processing of messages.

  5. Modelling and design of e-negotiation processes and systems

    Comparative studies of the use and impact of the four systems and also systems that are now being deployed (e.g., Aspire and INSS) will lead to formulation of a multidisciplinary perspective on e-negotiations and the ENSs design. Decision and negotiation support systems (DSS/NSS) are traditionally based on models from economic sciences, decision sciences and operation research. The objective of most DSS/NSS is to provide support to analysts and experts who in turn give advice to the decision makers and negotiators. This is because their use requires understanding of the modelling assumptions. In particular, in many systems decision-maker’s economic rational-ity was assumed, which - as it has been shown in experimental economics and behavioural sciences - is violated more often than not.

    The instrumental and pragmatic computer science orientation showed the potential for the integration of quan-titative and normative models with qualitative and descriptive models. For example, collaborative filtering systems used for helping users to order alternatives based on ordering done earlier by other people, and machine learning systems for the discovery and analysis of negotiation strategies implement formal decision models in a descriptive framework based on sociological or psychological research. The weakness of this instrumental orientation is an insufficient concern regarding the implications of the proposed solutions for business and other activities, and regarding the different and varying needs of the users.

    Behavioural models were formulated on the basis of various negotiation experiments and with different sub-jects they can be used in ENSs to provide advice that is tailored to the user needs. For ENSs to succeed it is necessary that the richness and complexity of negotiations be matched with multiplicity of research perspectives from many different fields. The consideration of the science and art of negotiation from the perspective of finding solutions to practical problems and satisfying users' requirements motivates this project.

  6. Organizational and social contexts of e-negotiation interactions

    Electronic negotiations are conducted within social and organizational contexts. This new form of interaction can lead to new developments within and outside of organisations. These developments underlie the need for an organizational (including business) model of e-negotiation and identification of possible contributions of ENSs to interaction between business and other organizations, and be-tween citizens and organizations. This requires identification and analysis of: (1) the types of the value proposition (e.g., cost saving, better solution, improved satisfaction; (2) the source of revenue or cost-reduction ENS may provide (e.g., service charge, third party sponsorship, integration with contract management system and travel cost reduction); (3) intangible contributions (e.g., increased trust and customer service), (4) ENS development and services cost structure (e.g., application development cost, hosting of services, professional consulting cost) and (5) the critical success factors (e.g., user acceptance, satisfaction, security and privacy).

    One of the most important issues for the success of e-business and e-government is trust. Trust is an important factor of social behaviour. Although it is of high practical relevance, the produc-tion of trust in e-negotiation settings requires further studies and will therefore be integrated in our research framework. We will build on the empirical studies on trust in e-commerce transactions and extend the proposed approaches to e-negotiations.

  7. E-marketplaces in negotiation teaching and research

    E-markets allow geographically distributed people and organizations to interact and engage in various transactions. The purpose of the interactions need not be purely commercial and it may involve joint problem solving, preparation of experiments, design of a system, and consulting activities. Several activities concerning the development of training materials and distance education courses will be undertaken in conjunction with the project "TrainIT: EuroCan cooperation for education and vocational training on Internet based transactions".

    Projects 2 and 3 will provide the methodological basis and various e-negotiation systems used in course development. These systems will be used in teaching and training by the universities in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe and this will give us an opportunity to conduct experiments and collect data. This will be an ongoing project with many activities involving the preparation of course materials, design of learning objects, modules and complete courses taught by faculty from the institutions participating in this project and in the TrainIT project.




January 13, 2004