The Role of Power in Negotiation

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The Role of Power in Negotiation
Power:

It has received this reputation because most people associate the word with one side dominating or overpowering the other. I define power as the ability to influence people or situations. With this definition, power is neither good nor bad. It is the abuse of power that is bad.

Interpersonal Power

French and Raven (1959:150-167) suggested five interpersonal bases of power that are important to negotiators.

• Legitimate power
• Reward power
• Coercive power
• Expert power
• Referent power

Legitimate power

Legitimate power is derived from the ability to influence because of position. A person at a higher level has power over the people below. However, each person with legitimate power uses it with a personal flair. Subordinates play a major role in the exercise of legitimate power. If subordinates view the power as legitimate, they comply. However, the culture, customs and value systems of an organization determine the limits of legitimate power. In other words, there are times when people respond to directions from another, even directions they do not like, because they feel it is proper and legitimate for the other to tell them and proper (obligatory) for them to obey. This is legitimate power. Sometimes one party will use legitimate power as a tactic against another party by: 1. bringing in someone who has the influence to make important decisions, and who has credibility with the other party or by 2. Assigning a lot of legitimate power to an individual or individuals within opposing parties so as to use the need for power and status that exists in all individuals to get major concessions from them. This is sometimes referred to as 'ingratiation' or stroking. It is important to recognize that legitimate power can only have influence if it is recognized by other individuals because it occurs only in a social structure. Some negotiators may attempt to deny the other party some of their legitimate power by: 1. denying them an opportunity to talk:

2. preferring to make reciprocal offers while insisting the other party continue to make concessions: 3. ignoring prior agreements on how to proceed: or
4. denying that any one of the other party can have any legitimate position of significance In such situations a negotiator could find it necessary to establish some minimal legitimate authority before proceeding and in some cases may in fact be advised to refuse to proceed until the other party shows by his or her behavior, that the authority is in place. Once a small, secure base of legitimate authority is established, a skillful negotiator can extend it.

Reward power

Power can be derived from the ability to reward compliance. Reward power is used to back up legitimate power. If rewards or potential rewards such as recognition, a good job assignment, a pay rise, or additional resources to complete a job are promised, the employee may reciprocate by responding to orders, requests and directions, according to Gibson et al.(1991:331). Rewards are often monetary but can also be intangible. Research has shown that verbal approval, encouragement and praise are frequently good substitutes for tangible rewards. Experiments on the use of positive reinforcement and behavior modification in the classroom or work setting have shown that verbal rewards could take the form of: " extreme politeness, " compliments, and " praise for past behavior. Non-verbal rewards could take the form of: " Giving individuals in the other party more space at the table: " Nodding of the head to indicate approval and acceptance: " Eye contact to indicate attention: and " Open and non-aggressive gestures to indicate acceptance and respect. Rewards could also take the form of verbal promises of financial benefits to be gained by establishing a relationship. Coercive Power

Coercive power is the opposite of reward power. It is the ability of the power holder...
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