Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2016.0053

Organizational scholars have systematically studied the negotiation process to guide the development of general descriptive and prescriptive theory. Descriptive research conducted by scholars from anthropology, law, and international relations converge on the features required for a general theory. This includes a multiphase process comprising planning, bargaining, and implementation, as well as multiparty process between actors organized within a multilevel structure. We examine to what extent negotiation scholars in management have incorporated such complexities into their empirical work. In a survey of empirical studies, we observe concentrated efforts to model and measure dyadic interactions in just one phase—bargaining—and the near exclusive use of experimental methods. By contrast, we survey prescriptive theory generated by specialized experts from various negotiation contexts and find that they place greater focus on the preparation and implementation phases. From this review, we recommend that scholars (a) theorize and measure negotiation as a multiphase process with possibilities for recursion, (b) incorporate a multiparty and multilevel structure in which actors beyond negotiating parties can influence the process, and (c) consider agreements as action commitments separate from actually realizing outcomes. In doing so, we discuss the value of integrating analogous work to furnish negotiation theory. We also provide recommendations for novel empirical approaches that move beyond experimental designs of multi-issue bargaining.

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