The Influence of Power on Negotiation Processes

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The focus of this dissertation is on communication processes in negotiations with unequal power distribution between parties. A model is tested proposing that culturally influenced power-distance values and power differences based on resource distribution both influence negotiators' perceptions of the difference in power between parties. This perception influences the choice of negotiation tactics. If the power gap is perceived to be small, both parties will employ more power tactics than if the gap is perceived to be large.

An experiment was conducted to test the model. Participants (294) were randomly assigned to one of two roles (manager versus subordinate) and one of two conditions (high resource-power-difference versus low resource-power-difference). Participants formed 147 dyads, completed questionnaires and role-played negotiations, which were recorded and coded for the use of power tactics. The analysis used a structural equation model to test the study's hypotheses; the model had acceptable fit. Power distance and resource distribution were found to influence negotiators' perception of reward power and overall power difference between the parties. Negotiators varied their behavior depending on condition, lending support to power distance reduction theory (Mulder, 1973). However, perception of overall power difference did not directly predict use of power tactics. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.