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Power in the Negotiation Process Essay

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2020


The ability to solve a disagreement between two people depends on the level of negotiation in terms of communication and the relationship between the two parties. When there is poor communication and bitter relationship between the parties, the possibility of failure in negation failing is high. The negotiation between two people cannot be successful without considering the element of power.

Negotiation power refers to the capability of the negotiator to challenge the behaviour of another person. The power is needed where there is need of one party to win in a contest. Power acts as a pillar in terms of structure, strategy, and approach to negotiation. The paper evaluates the influence of power in the process of negotiation to make one party win in a contest.

Power as a structure and a strategy in negotiation

The process of negotiation starts with the dissemination of power among the parties involved. The dissemination of power assists in the resolution in the whole negotiation process. For instance, some of the countries like US, which has more powers than the other countries, dominate in any kind of negotiations (Ḳupferberg & Green, 2005). This shows the level of power that each party possess results in either power symmetry or asymmetry. The most preferred structure of power for international negotiation is asymmetrical structure. However, the experts still debate on the best structure for effective negotiation.

Power has become like any other resource in an organization that the parties involved in a disagreement bring before the table of negotiation. Everybody considers its structure as the most powerful. For example, the research has shown that the small states having mediocre organization of power, do not succumb to the other nations that have strong structure of power. For clarity, power can be understood using two concepts namely relational and perception concepts.

We can deliberate on the relational concept. In relational concept, if there is one organization powerful more than the other organization to a level of getting the other organization to do something, the other organization would not do the task. For instance, private organizations have fewer assets than the World Bank but World Bank can expedite its legitimate roles by including the private organizations. Equally, it is also necessary to note that power is within the territory of the party possessing it.

The party can decide to influence the other person with the less power. For instance, Santos (2012) explains power as the capability of one party to produce an influence on another by the motive of utilizing resources. They expounded that the weaker nations can change the insight of the other stronger nations. Therefore, power is inclusive of static and structural conditions for negotiation.

Power as an approach in the negotiation

Power as an approach in the negotiation involves the competitive technique of negotiating with the hope of winning in the contest. Some of the techniques that a party may use as an approach to win in the contest include intimidation, sanctions, and taking the advantage of resources to outsmart the other opponent. For example, during Cold War, Khurshchev used a power-based approach to defeat Kennedy because he had the courage from the president of US (Weissenbacher, 2009).

During these days, negotiation was considered as part of the strategy in addition to other techniques like military team among others. However, one shortcoming of this strategy is that it is costly and may only last for short time. The high cost is caused by reciprocation of power and involve in competitions when provoked by aggressive rival. In addition, power-based approach is not harmful under all situations. For example, power tactics may be important in the presence of stalemate between the two rivals. It can be used for gaining from the results of negotiations. Strategy of power varies with period. If the weaker party can re-strategize and come up with stronger powers, they can influence the other party that had stronger powers.

Sources and types of power for negotiation

The power from the authority

This is similar to the structural power of negotiation. When negotiating on matters of territories, for example scientific community commands a significant challenge due to its authority. The source of power of authority is people in particular positions “legitimate power.” It is referred to power of authority because it influences on a high degree by encouraging obedience. Research has shown that most people submit in negotiation because of power of authority.

Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)

This is the second source of power in negotiation. The source sets the standards, which negotiated agreements should surpass. It is considered as the second option in negotiation to a party. The healthier the alternative to a negotiated agreement the more strong it becomes. For example, an employee from a company with more attractive offers will have an upper hand of bargaining than the other employee with less attractive features.

Even if BATNA would influence the way of bargaining, it can also be a topic of strategic management. The party can improve its own BATNA and affects the value of the other party’s BATNA (Weissenbacher, 2009). One example under this was when China planned to inverse ambassadorial acknowledgment of allies of Taiwan which was an effort to deteriorate the administrative avenues of people of Taiwan.


This technique is coupled by power-based method. This involves the use of threats to achieve the objectives in a negotiation. For example, the second Kim Jong the head of North Korea is a perfect example that employs fears and incitements to gain in the field of politics. He achieves this because of his tough rhetoric and the massive development of missiles that threatens people. Santos (2012) opines that for the threat to achieve objectives, it has to aim at the target of interest like the security of a country. This type of power requires surety and courage while negotiating. However, this tactic of negotiation has one limitation; it can easily backfire hence risking the rapport.


In review, power makes parties to gain from various negotiations. In every negotiation, the party with the highest power wins the contest at the expense of the other party with weaker power. There are many types of powers from different sources making party to win in a contest. Some of the sources of power include power from authority, best alternative to a exchanged bargain and the threats. In addition, the paper has deliberated on power as a structure in the organization and power as an approach to the negotiation. Only the parties with the favourable structure and good approach win in the contest of negotiation. The parties that may gain from negotiation are like companies and countries with conflicting interests.


Ḳupferberg, I., & Green, D. (2005). Troubled talk: Metaphorical negotiation in problem discourse. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Santos, M. S. (2012). Cleansing honor with blood: Masculinity, violence, and power in the backlands of northeast Brazil, 1845-1889. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Weissenbacher, M. (2009). Sources of power: How energy forges human history. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

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