- Negotiations and electronic media: Methodological foundations and
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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