Genderdifferences in Negotiation

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Gender often appears to have economically material implications in negotiations in organizations and markets. But researchers’ attempts to tie the phenomenon down in the lab have produced a tangled web of largely contradictory results. By the mid-1980s, the leading experimental researchers in negotiation had tossed the gender variable into a heap of discarded individual difference predictors—ranging from race to authoritarianism—which had failed over scores of tests to produce consistent results. “From what is known now,” one review concluded, “it does not appear that there is any single personality type or characteristic that is directly and clearly linked to success in negotiation” Contemporary feminist ideals of minimalist sex differences further reinforced this perspective. Much of the relevant feminist research of that era sought “to shatter stereotypes about women’s characteristics and change people’s attitudes by proving that women and men are essentially equivalent in their personalities, behavioral tendencies, and intellectual abilities”. There are multiple explanations offered for the gender gap in venture funding, ranging from quality of life choices to ownership preferences. However, some with direct experience point to differences in the way men and women entrepreneurs have approached their negotiations with prospective investors. According to some, for successful venture capital deals; women are often not comfortable talking about what they are worth. They'll go in to pitch a project and naturally put a lower value on it than men do.


There have been two major streams of research on gender in negotiation. The first surged and largely subsided with trends in psychological research on individual differences in the 1970s and 1980s. The second emerged as a feminist critique of the negotiation field in the 1990s. The original wave of psychological research on gender as an individual difference in negotiation rested on the premise that gender would be a stable and reliable predictor of bargaining behavior and performance.


There should be a conceptualization of the role of gender in negotiation that is distinct from previous characterizations of gender as a stable individual trait or de-individualized social construct; a situational perspective on gender in negotiation, which starts with the fundamental premise that social behavior is the product of the individual in interaction with the situation. There are predictable (as opposed to stable) gender differences in negotiation, which are systematically contingent upon the presence or absence of particular situational cues

SITUATIONAL MODERATORS OF GENDER DIFFERENCES: AMBIGUITY AND PRECIPITATING SITUATIONS There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that gender differences in social behavior stem not only from the “hard-wired” propensities of one sex versus the other, but also from the fulfillment of stereotypic gender roles and performance expectations. In order to predict when gender is most likely to affect social behavior, we should identify those situations that foster or suppress the emergence of individual differences, in general, and those situations that trigger gender-based behavior and performance expectations, in particular. Below, we introduce two fundamental situational moderators that have been shown to influence the extent to which individual difference predicts social behavior. The first is the psychological strength of the situation and the second is the presence of precipitating factors. We later adapt these ideas to the negotiation context. The psychological strength of a situation is measured by the extent to which it is uniformly encoded, it induces uniform expectancies as to the appropriate pattern of response, it provides incentives to engage in the expected response pattern, and the skills...