Negotiation Strategies

Heidi Burgess

January 2004

Most of the negotiation literature focuses on two strategies, although they call them by different names. One strategy is interest-based (or integrative, or cooperative) bargaining, while the other is positional (or distributive or competitive) bargaining. In their best-selling book on negotiation, Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury argue that there are three approaches: hard, soft, and what they call "principled negotiation." Hard is essentially extremely competitive bargaining, soft extremely integrative bargaining (so integrative that one gives up one's own interests in the hopes of meeting the other person's interests) and principled negotiation is supposed to be somewhere in between, but closer to soft, certainly, than hard.[1] All of these topics are discussed in this section.

Paul Wehr describes the usefulness of the single-text negotiating approach in a university conflict.

Lax and Sebenius were among the first to argue that actually all negotiations were combinations of both approaches. First negotiators try to "create value" by enlarging the pie as much as they can. (This is the approach advocated by interest-based and principled negotiation.) But inevitably, the pie will then need to be divided up, which calls for distributive negotiation. So they claim that all negotiation is a combination of creating and claiming value, not one or the other as other theorists suggest.

The last essay in this section talks about different negotiation strategies used in different cultures. Principled negotiation, many argue, is a very American approach to conflict. Other cultures negotiate very differently, as this essay describes.

[1] Roger Fisher and William Ury. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. (New York: Penguin Books, 2011). <>.

Use the following to cite this article:
Burgess, Heidi. "Negotiation Strategies." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: January 2004 <>.

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