What is Integrative Bargaining? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Integrative Bargaining
  • 1:06 Methods in Integrative…
  • 3:19 After the Negotiation
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

If your goal in a negotiation is a win-win solution where you and the other party can remain friends, maybe integrative bargaining is your style. In this lesson, we define integrative bargaining and give some real-world examples.

Integrative Bargaining

Some people hear the word negotiate and they picture an adversarial, competitive situation. People think there has to be a winner and a loser, someone who walks away with a bigger piece of the proverbial pie. This is known as a distributive bargaining approach, where one party's gain is the other party's loss.

But what if we could do things differently, maybe frame things in a cooperative situation versus a competitive one? Integrative bargaining is a method where, instead of being focused on positions, the parties involved are focused on underlying interests. Maybe there's a way to get to a win-win scenario if we look at the proverbial pie and try to expand it so everyone gets enough.

How does this work in the real world? Integrative bargaining works best in a scenario where multiple issues are at stake, because there have to be some items for each side to trade off to get to a mutual agreement. We're looking for a greater outcome together than either side could reach on its own: a wise decision with benefits for both sides.

Methods in Integrative Bargaining

As an example, let's use a labor negotiation: a police union negotiating pension and benefits with a city government. The city wants to contain escalating costs, and the police union doesn't want to lose ground from previous negotiations. As we go through the following steps, we'll consider how they apply in our scenario.

Step 1: Become Joint Problem Solvers

Both parties need to view their roles as working together versus against one another. It should be a collaborative process. In our case, the city doesn't want to be without police protection and the officers don't want to miss a paycheck, so there is a joint objective in addition to the core issue of costs.

Step 2: Define Your Interests

Both sides need to have a clear understanding of what they really want out of the situation, and this shouldn't be based on historical positions. Be willing to ask ''why do we want this?'' There should also be some agreement on the objective criteria that will be used to evaluate alternatives. How does everyone measure success?

Step 3: Share Information

Successful integrative bargaining requires both parties to be open about their interests. In our case, maybe the city can provide clear financial evidence that if the current police pension doesn't change, the city will go bankrupt and the police won't get anything in the future. Assuming that the two sides want to help each other, it should be possible to ask direct questions to clarify objectives.

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