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Improvement of negotiations through awareness

Working groupKnowledge Exchange Lab
Duration01/2013 - 12/2016
FundingLeibniz Association as part of the Leibniz Competition
Project description

Computer-supported negotiations can be improved by making the negotiators aware of their different priorities. The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the so called priority awareness and foster it by an adequate information design. This not only has practical relevance for negotiations in a professional setting, but also for everyday negotiations in private life.

Negotiations rarely revolve around only one issue, the parties usually must agree on several issues. For example in the acquisition/sale of a vehicle fleet where a multinational insurance company and a big carmaker would have to agree in addition to the price, also on the number of vehicles, their type and the amenities. Such variety of issues offers the possibility of an integrative negotiation: By giving concessions on less important issues you can in exchange demand concessions on more important issues. Thereby a higher negotiation result is achieved for both parties as if each issue had been negotiated individually (distributive negotiation). However, this is only possible if the negotiating parties are aware of the relevant priorities.

A persistent fallacy is to assume that the other party would have the same priorities (fixed-sum-error). However, this is practically non-existent and stands in the way of an integrative negotiation and a worth optimizing negotiation outcome. This PhD project aims to foster the awareness of the negotiators about their different priorities (priority awareness) and thereby improve objective and subjective measures of negotiation performance.

By using a negotiation support system it is investigated in numerous experimental negotiations about a vehicle fleet, how such information about priorities can be visually presented in such a way that automatic fallacies can be bypassed and negotiation outcomes improved. There are no special experiences required from the negotiating parties; there are no further instructions or training given to them.

First results show that a complex visualization impairs subjective negotiation outcomes (satisfaction, fairness, honesty) whereas simple bar charts that were created with a common spreadsheet program do not have this negative impact and improve objective measures negotiation outcome (individual/joint outcome, pareto efficiency).


PD Dr. Tanja Engelmann, Praxis für Hochbegabung und Hochleistungspotenzial in Stuttgart


Kolodziej, R., Hesse, F. W., & Engelmann, T. (2016). Improving Negotiations with Bar Charts: The Advantages of Priority Awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 60, 351–360.