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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2013 Dec;105(6):978-95. doi: 10.1037/a0034095. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Negotiating power: agenda ordering and the willingness to negotiate in asymmetric intergroup conflicts.

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School of Management, Northwestern University.


In this research, we investigated how group power influences the way members of groups in asymmetrical conflict approach intergroup negotiations. Drawing on theories of negotiations and of intergroup power, we predicted that group power would interact with features of the proposed negotiating agenda to influence willingness to come to the table. Based on the negotiation literature, we focused on 2 types of sequential negotiation agendas: 1 beginning with the discussion of consequential issues before less consequential issues (consequential first) and 1 leaving the discussion of consequential issues until after less consequential issues are discussed (consequential later). Because they are motivated to advance changes to their disadvantaged status quo, we expected low-power group members to favor consequential first over consequential later invitations to negotiate. High-power group members, motivated to protect their advantage, were expected to show the reverse preference. Converging evidence from 5 experiments involving real-world and experimental groups supported these predictions. Across studies, participants received an invitation to negotiate from the other group involving either a consequential first or consequential later agenda. Low-power group members preferred consequential first invitations because these implied less stalling of change to the status quo, and high-power group members preferred consequential later invitations because these invitations seemed to pose less threat to their position. Theoretical and practical implications for negotiations research and conflict resolution are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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