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Negotiation is a voluntary process through which disputant parties come to an agreement with a view to resolve their disputes. Negotiation process refers to a dispute resolution process wherein the negotiating parties with conflicting interests attempt to adjust such differences to come to an agreement in the expectation to gain. The common need to reach to an agreement with the expectation to gain is the driving force for the negotiation process, which leads the disputants to a level of interdependence. Either each party to the negotiation process may cooperate with each other to reach their respective objectives or they may act as hindrance for each other in the attainment of their respective goals and objectives. The participants in the negotiation process may become either partners or adversaries owing to the difference in the quality of the relation and the nature of the contradicting issues, attitudes, behaviors and perceptions. This research paper discusses about the various ethical conflicts that arises in negotiation process with respect to ethnic diversity that prevails in the society. This paper aims at explaining about the two aspects, cooperative and conflicting, that entails in the negotiation process and the significant role played by a negotiator in maintaining a balance between these two aspects to attain a solution that is mutually acceptable by the participants of the process.
Ethics can be described as a social standard that determines what is right and what is wrong in particular circumstances. It may also be defined as a process for setting out the rules that determines whether a particular conduct in a specific situation is right or wrong.
Three preeminent motivational factors that leads a negotiator adopt or resort to unethical conduct in the negotiating process are enumerated as below:
The three significant categories of ethical conduct that were used to describe the various negotiating strategies and tactics include truth telling, relativism and means/ends. The more one adheres to the rules and procedures, the more one believes that abiding by such rules and procedures shall lead them to achieve their intended objectives. The second category of negotiating strategy, which includes relativism, compels the negotiator to deal with the questions that whether there are any rules that determines a right and a wrong conduct. According to Fells (2016), misrepresentation, bluffing and distortion of facts are certain other factors that become essential to use as a negotiating strategy in a negotiation process which are perceived as unethical and inappropriate by others.
Several ethical issues exist in a negotiating process, which is more than any ethical issues that may arise in other forms of interpersonal transactions. It is believed that most of the times, a negotiator resorts to the application of the unethical negotiating strategies or tactic with the sole objective to enhance their negotiating power. They believe that power can be obtained by manipulating or distorting the accurate facts or information, obtaining detailed information about the plan of the opponent or by discouraging the capability of the opponent in order to attain their goals. The use of such unethical negotiating tactics or strategies leads to two types of outcomes. Firstly, they either attain or fail to attain their desired goals and secondly, their opponent or the observers criticize their strategies or tactics. Negotiators are often compelled to justify their application of the negotiating strategies that is, they know they have something wrong and it is necessary to justify the same with a good reason.
It is believed that the decision taken by the negotiators to use ethical or unethical strategies and tactics may be influenced by several factors. These include differences in individual backgrounds, rewards, punishments or personalities that are associated with the ethical or unethical conduct. Further, various social and cultural norms determine whether a particular conduct was right or wrong in a given situation.
The other factors that may influence the negotiator to resort to unethical negotiating strategy in a negotiation process are as follows:
Ethics in the negotiation process and the negotiating strategy used by the lawyers, sales people and other people who are known to have the ability to influence people into reaching agreements are often perceived as a negative aspect of the negotiation process. One of the most fundamental elements of a negotiation process is the ability to persuade others to accept the accuracy of any information, which would ultimately influence the decision regarding the disputed matter. It often becomes immaterial for most of the negotiators to realize that whether they are using ethical or unethical negotiating strategies as long as they are likely to defeat their opponent in a given situation. However, negotiators who usually resort to ethical strategies are aware of the fact that when the parties to the negotiation process are on the receiving end of the lies framed by them, the credibility of the negotiator manipulating the accurate information diminishes.
Negotiation is often comprehended as a competition where the opponent party is quasi-permanent and each of the participants of the negotiation process is perceived as an enemy or an opponent with conflicting interests. According to Goldberg (2014), this form of negotiation process is known as distributive bargaining, which refers to the complicated system of activities that are fundamental for a part to attain his or her desired objectives, especially when such goals are contradicting with the goals of another party to the negotiation process. On the other hand, an integrative or cooperative bargaining strategy is another negotiating strategy where the negotiator is not only concerned with his or her desired objectives but are also concerned about the interest and desired objectives of the other party to the negotiation process.
This kind of situation is often referred to a win-win situation where the negotiator seek solutions that is beneficial to either parties to the process or at least where one party gains from such solution, the other party does not suffer an equal loss. Hence, the integrative bargaining process is a system of activities that is essential to achieve those objectives of one party, which are not in contrary to the objectives of the other party, and has a scope of being integrated to a certain extent.
This solution is more than an appropriate conflict resolution process, it is a ‘problem solving approach’ where the participants perceives this procedure as negotiation process which aims at seeking solution to the common dispute that is not only advantageous but is also acceptable by both the parties to the negotiation process. The various negotiation processes is a mixture of competition and cooperation as it encompasses both value claiming (distributive process) and value creating (integrative process) features. The interdependence between these features often gives rise to ethical dilemma for the negotiator while making decision in the negotiation process.
The dilemma arises due to the presence of different tactical requirement of one process (distributive bargaining process) is in contradictory to the other process (integrative bargaining process). Thus, the manner in which the negotiator is required to strike balance between these processes itself poses a challenge before the negotiators. These dilemma is not only restricted to the procedure in which the negotiator attains the objectives, determines the level of cooperation, trust, honesty but also extends to the means, ways and toughness that is required to resolve the common dispute that has arisen between the participants of the negotiating process.
As discussed above, that the negotiators often do not differentiate between ethical and unethical strategies, which mostly lead them to resort to unethical strategies as they aims at enhancing their negotiating power and attaining their respective objectives. While they are concerned about the enhancement of their negotiating power, they tend to neglect the interest and the desired objectives of the other party of the negotiating process. However, since the negotiators evolve from cooperation to completion during the negotiation process, they usually reveal their relative power while interacting with the other party to the negotiating process over the acceptance of the decisions or options made by the other party to the negotiation process.
People belonging to diverse cultural and ethical background often use different language to frame or conceptualize the negotiation process. At the same time, people seem to recognize that negotiation has a task as well as a relationship objective and that argument may be dominated by emotion or rationality which may result in distributive, (win-lose) or integrative or win-win interest of the parties engaged in the negotiation process.
The cultural differences in the negotiator’s perspective on relationship versus the consequences may be due to cultural differences in the diverse social setting. For instance, people from Western cultural and ethical backgrounds are usually independent, self-construal and individualistic. They consider themselves as independent and disengage themselves from the social groups to which they belong and perceive themselves as agents who freely concentrate on their personal goals instead on social obligations. On the other hand, Eastern Cultures tend to understand themselves to be a part of the social groups to which they belong and perceive themselves as agents restrained by the social obligations to maintain harmony within the social groups.
This signifies that a relationship frame will be more significant for negotiators dealing with parties belonging to Eastern culture and a resource distribution frame shall be relevant for negotiators in Western cultures. This implies that negotiators in Eastern cultures usually perceive negotiation process in terms of relationships and that this frame is essential to influence the negotiation goals. Whereas, negotiators in Western cultures usually consider negotiation in terms of outcome and this frame is essential to influence the negotiation goals.
Since negotiation process is a mixed-motive task, cooperation and competition both are considered as fundamental elements of negotiation in the Eastern and Western Culture. Cooperative goals usually emphasizes on integrative joint value creation and integrative consequences. While the competitive goals direct the value claiming or the distributive aspects of negotiation. If people from Western culture believe, negotiation is more concerned about the distribution of resources, the interplay between the cooperative and competitive goals shall demonstrate an attempt to create joint grains and claim largest part of the profit. If people from Eastern culture believe, negotiation is more concerned about relationship, the relationship between the competitive goals may demonstrate an attempt to develop a long-term relationship, which is not excessively cooperative but has sufficient social distance to justify such claiming value.
Thus, although the negotiators from the Western and the Eastern cultures have both competitive and cooperative goals, which would imply that the goals might have different meanings and one factor may have an impact on the normative negotiation behavior of another factor. Hence, it can be understood that normative behaviors that negotiators from diverse ethical and cultural background applies to achieve competitive and cooperative goals differs from each other which can be anticipated from the difference in the diverse culture and ethical background and through the negotiation factor framed in both the Western and the Eastern culture.
The most common and essential characteristics of a negotiation process is conflict. A conflict gives rise to a negotiation process in the first place which makes it more important to resolve such conflict. The most common form of conflict that arises in a negotiation process is conflict resolution. When two or more parties engage into a negotiation process with the objective to resolve the conflicts, both the parties hope to reach some agreement, which would resolve such conflicts. The other characteristics that make the negotiation process more interesting as well as challenging includes diversity in cultural and ethical background of the parties.
Under such circumstances, the negotiators are required to strive demonstrate an image of a person who is interested in diving a hard bargain or some person who is willing to make no or few concessions. Some of the negotiators play this role at the time of commencement of the negotiation process while some wait for their opponents to position themselves and apply their negotiating style as a corporate strategy based on the organizational goals.
The other cultural and ethical issue that may arise in negotiation process includes argumentation where language pays a significant role. Parties belonging to diverse cultural, ethical background may have a diverse linguistic style as well. At the stage of argumentation, language is not only used as a medium of communication but is also used as a weapon to bring down the argument of the opponent or alternatively, language may be used as a means to develop a bond with the opposing party.
Consequently, it gives rise to other ethical issues such as manipulation, lying and deception in the negotiating process. The negotiators must be capable of managing and using their language in a way that their perspective is conveyed clearly. In order to deal with such deception and lying, it is essential that the negotiators demonstrate honest and trust in behavior, recognize deception tactics or lying. In the event of a protective contract, the negotiator may arrange consequences or pre-negotiate to achieve a win-win negotiation outcome. The negotiator must explain the consequences of deception and lying to the opponent party to the negotiation process, which includes emotional response, loss of trust. The negotiator must deal with such deception and lying in manner so that it does not affect the relationship adversely. The consequences of lying and deception may give the party a short-term win but it would ultimately result in a long-term loss.
However, the negotiators may adopt unethical practices under the following certain exceptional circumstances:
Cultural and ethical backgrounds cam often influence business negotiations in unexpected and significant ways. The difference in culture and ethics can be much more subtle, arising from entrenched cultural tendencies that influence the manner in which the people shall interact. The fact how people perceive the role of the individual versus the group to their attitudes, all signifies the significance of relationships or time.
The several areas where cultural and ethical differences affect negotiation process, which includes informal or formal attitude, display of emotions, preference to win negotiation, etc. in order to win the negotiation process. Some of the negotiators often prefer to win the negotiation and are not concerned with the win-win proposition. The personal characteristics also play a significant role in the negotiating process, as the parties to the negotiating process may be formal or informal while negotiating. For instance, Germans are formal whereas Mexicans are informal.
Therefore, in any negotiation process, any negotiator who has dealt with high value deals is aware of the fact that reputation is extremely imperative as it assists the negotiators to earn money for the organization. Thus, with honest and fair practice, the negotiator shall not only earn money for the company but can also earn respect and reputation for the negotiator as well as the organization.
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