Conflicts are a constant reality in our society and the effective resolution of the same may spell the difference between a successful and failed society. It is therefore imperative that the people involved in a conflict resolve the contentious issues constructively. Key to the process of conflict resolution is the use of negotiation tactics and strategies. This is because a deeper understanding of negotiation results in people getting the necessary skills required in diffusing conflicts. Knowledge of the negotiation process is therefore vital for effective conflict resolution. In this paper, I shall give a detailed description of how a merger problem can be solved through negotiation. The steps that should be followed during the negotiation shall also be discussed.
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Shamir (2003), claims that negotiation can be defined as a form of communication whose purpose is persuasion. The negotiation process is therefore a process by which parties to a dispute discuss possible outcomes to their conflict. The parties involved might choose to adopt one of the two fundamental negotiating approaches: Competition or collaboration. Despite the fact that the proposed merger is beneficial to both companies, we all need to protect our interest to ensure that each company remains relevant after the merger. As such, the fundamentals of negotiation that should be employed in this case are finding resolves through the interests and positions of the parties.
Negotiation fundamentals employed in resolving the merger issue
The competition approach of negotiation is based on opposing positions (demands), and ends up in a win-lose scenario. Hunt (2009) states that the negotiation process may be futile if a party’s wants are not fully addressed. For example General Dynamics may want a particular price, work schedule or changes in the mode of operation of Lockheed-Martin. In this case, using the demands (positions) of General Dynamics as the baseline for this negotiation would be very important.
This is attributed to the fact that if General Dynamics feels like their demands (stand on the issue) have been addressed through the negotiation, they will have no choice but to sign off the merger. However, Lussier (2008) states that while using this strategy, it is always important to ensure that the negotiators demands are also addressed with little to no compromises. Being the negotiator in this case, I have to ensure that the demands of General Dynamics are addressed so that they can agree to the merger.
On the other hand, I have to employ the collaborative approach which is based on common interests therefore yielding to a win-win outcome. In addition to the competition approach, I have to find the common interests between our companies and use them as leverage in pursuit of an agreement. Information is important towards a successful negotiation. All companies want to make profits, expand their market base and lower costs. As such, I would ensure that I gather as much information as possible regarding to General Dynamics’ position on these aspects. I would then use this information to present my arguments for this merger. This would ultimately lead to a unanimous consensus and ensure that the merger is a success because the common interests of both firms have been addressed.
Negotiation sub processes that will help ensure a successful negotiation
The first step in the negotiation process is to describe what it is that you want to negotiate (interests). This is based on the concept that negotiation involves conflicts about particular resources. General Dynamics will therefore identify if there is a situation that needs to be negotiated. Lack of an identifiable area of conflict invariably renders negotiations unnecessary. Having acknowledged the conflict, the negotiations between General Dynamics and my company can be deemed as being ready to begin.
The process ideally begins by both parties presenting their issues which are mostly in the form of demands and goals to be met. A goal is defined as a known or presumed commercial or personal interest of all or some of the parties to the negotiation and it is these goals that set the grounds for the negotiation process (Barry, Lewicki & Saunders, 2010). From this an outline of expectations from the parties involved can be made and the agenda for the negotiation process outlined.
Having established the basis for the negotiation, we can now delve deeper into the task. While the preliminary stage acted as ground for negotiation, the information on the issues at hand was only sparingly addressed. The second step involves a deeper probing to enable both parties understand each other better. As such, this step is characterized by the informational exchange between the parties involved in a bid to establish the real needs and goals.
Each side aims at understanding the opponent, their limits and how far they are willing to compromise so as to reach a consensus. Use of open-ended questions and allowing the other party to correct your understanding of the issue are some of the best means of ensuring that a good understanding of the issues at hand is attained. Restatement of information leads to clarity and confirmation thus assuring that communication is effective.
A key element in this step is to get as much information as is possible to enable the parties to come up with as many options as are possible. It is in this stage that a person can also gain a better appreciation of the other party’s point of view. This will be hugely beneficial since once you are able to look at the conflict from the other person’s point of view, you can propose solutions that they would find appealing and therefore resolve the issue.
Concession trading which is the aim of good negotiation is the next stage in negotiating. Shamir (2003) defines consensus building as a decision and agreement reached by all the identified parties. In this process, each party is required to reduce their demands or aspirations so as to accommodate the other party. Through this process, unanimous agreement over the disputed issue(s) is reached. As such, each side makes some gains and possibly some loses.
Negotiation is one of the most productive means through which disputes can be successfully resolved. An understanding of the negotiating process greatly empowers a person in his/her negotiating undertakings. In addressing the merger issue between these two companies, the key steps in the negotiation process have been outlined. While the process described herein is basic and might have to be modified to be applicable to the specific disputes at hand, it provides a good framework for negotiation tasks. An understanding and proper implementation of these process will lead to greater success during negotiations.
Barry, B., Lewicki, R., Saunders, D. (2010). Negotiation Readings, Exercises and Cases. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Hunt, P. (2009). Structuring mergers & acquisitions: a guide to creating shareholder value. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.
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Lussier, R. (2008). Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, Skill Development. San Fransisco, CA: Cengage Learning.
Shamir, Y. (2003). Alternative Dispute Resolution Approaches and their Application. Buenos Aires, Argentina: PCCP Publications.