Getting to best: efficiency versus optimality in negotiation
Negotiation between two individuals is a common task that typically involves two goals: maximize individual outcomes and obtain an agreement. However, research on the simplest negotiation tasks demonstrates that although naive subjects can be induced to improve their performance, they are often no more likely to achieve fully optimal solutions. The present study tested the prediction that a decrease in a particular type of argumentative behavior, substantiation, would result in an increase in
... timal agreements. As substantiation behaviors depend primarily on supplied content of the negotiation task, it was also predicted that substantiation behavior would be reduced by curtailing the content. A 2 ϫ 2 experimental design was employed, where both negotiation tactics (list of tactics present versus absent) and negotiation task content (high versus low) were varied to determine the processes leading beyond solution improvement to solution optimality. Sixty-one dyads engaged in a two-party, four-issue negotiation task. All negotiations were videotaped and analyzed. Although the list of negotiation tactics resulted in improved performance, only the content manipulation resulted in a significant increase in dyads achieving optimal solutions. Analyses of the coded protocols indicated that the key difference in achieving optimality was a reduction in persistent substantiation-related operators (substantiation, along with single-issue preferences and procedures) and an increase in a complex macro-operator, multi-issue offers that reduced the problem space, facilitating the search for optimality.