Mutual Gains Approach

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The Mutual Gains Approach (MGA) to negotiation is a process model, based on experimental findings and hundreds of real-world cases,[1][2][3][4][5][6] that lays out four steps for negotiating better outcomes while protecting relationships and reputation. A central tenet of the model, and the robust theory that underlies it, is that a vast majority of negotiations in the real world involve parties who have more than one goal or concern in mind and more than one issue that can be addressed in the agreement they reach. The model allows parties to improve their chances of creating an agreement superior to existing alternatives.

MGA is not the same as “Win-Win” (the idea that all parties must, or will, feel delighted at the end of the negotiation) and does not focus on “being nice” or “finding common ground.” Rather, it emphasizes careful analysis and good process management.

Steps[edit]

The four step Mutual Gains Approach was developed by scholars and practitioners at the Consensus Building Institute, a Cambridge, Massachusetts based company founded by MIT professor Lawrence Susskind. The four steps of the Mutual Gains Approach are:

Preparation[edit]

Prepare by understanding interests and alternatives. More specifically, estimate your BATNA and how other parties see theirs (BATNA stands for “best alternative to a negotiated agreement”). Having a good alternative to agreement increases your power at the table.[7][8][9] At the same time, work to understand your own side’s interests as well as the interests of the other parties. Interests are the kinds of things that a person or organization cares about, in ranked order.[10]

Good negotiators listen for the interests behind positions or the demands that are made. For instance, “I won’t pay more than ninety thousand” is a position; the interests behind the position might include limiting the size of the down payment; a fear that the product or service might prove unreliable; and assumptions about the interest rates attached to future payments. The party might also be failing to articulate other non-financial interests that are nonetheless important.

Value Creation[edit]

Create value by inventing without committing. Based on the interests uncovered or shared, parties should declare a period of “inventing without committing” during which they advance options by asking “what if…?” By floating different options and “packages”[11] —bundles of options across issues—parties can discover additional interests, create options that had not previously been imagined, and generate opportunities for joint gain by trading across issues they value differently.[12][13][14][15]

Value Distribution[edit]

At some point in a negotiation, parties have to decide on a final agreement. The more value they have created, the easier this will be,[16] but research suggests that parties default very easily into positional bargaining when they try to finalize details of agreements.[17] Parties should divide value by finding objective criteria that all parties can use to justify their “fair share” of the value created.[18][19]

By identifying criteria or principles that support or guide difficult allocation decisions, parties at the negotiating table can help the groups or organizations they represent to understand why the final package is not only supportable, but fundamentally “fair.” [20] This improves the stability of agreements, increases the chances of effective implementation, and protects relationships.[21][22]

Follow Through[edit]

Follow through by imagining future challenges and their solutions. Parties near the end of difficult negotiations—or those who will “hand off” the agreement to others for implementation—often forget to strengthen the agreement by imagining the kinds of things that could derail it or produce future conflicts or uncertainty.[23][24][25]

While it is difficult to focus on potential future challenges, it is wise to include specific provisions in the final document that focus on monitoring the status of commitments; communicating regularly; resolving conflicts or confusions that arise; aligning incentives and resources with the commitments required; and helping other parties who may become a de facto part of implementing the agreement.[26][27] Including these provisions makes the agreement more robust and greatly assists the parties who will have to live with it and by it.[28][29]

See also[edit]

Program on Negotiation

Getting to YES

References[edit]

  1. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (1987). Breaking the Impasse: consensual approaches to resolve public disputes. Basic Books Inc.: New York, NY.
  2. ^ Susskind, L., Amundsen, O., Matsuura, M., Kaplan, M., & Lampe, D. (1999). Using Assisted Negotiation to Settle Land Use Disputes, A Guidebook for Public Officials. Consensus Building Institute and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  3. ^ Kirk, E. Orr, P, & Keyes, D. (2008). Environmental Conflict Resolution Practice and Performance: An Evaluation Framework. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 25(3)(2008): 283-301.
  4. ^ Bingham, G. (1986). Resolving environmental disputes: A decade of experience The Conservation Foundation: Washington, DC
  5. ^ Lewicki, R., Gray, B., & Elliott, M. (Eds.). (2002). Making Sense of Intractable Environmental Conflicts: Concepts and Cases (1 ed.). Washington DC: Island Press.
  6. ^ Anderson, J., & Yaffee, S. (1998). Balancing Public Trust and Private Interest: Public Participation in Habitat Conservation Planning, A Summary Report. A research report commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, MI.
  7. ^ Raiffa, H. (1982). Analytical models and empirical results - in The Art and Science of Negotiation. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. pp. 44-65.
  8. ^ Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). What if they are more powerful? (developing your BATNA - best alternative to negotiated agreement) - in Getting to YES: negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd Ed.). Penguin Books USA Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 97-107.
  9. ^ Zartman, W., & Rubin, J (Eds.). (2000). Symmetry and asymmetry in negotiation - in Power and Negotiation. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, MI. pp. 271-294.
  10. ^ Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Focus on interests, not positions - in Getting to YES: negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd Ed.). Penguin Books USA Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 40-56.
  11. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (2006) 3.4 Seek to maximize joint gains through the brainstorming of packages - in Breaking Robert's Rule: the new way to run meetings, build consensus, and get results. Oxford University Press: New York, NY. p. 178.
  12. ^ Bazerman, M, & Neal, M. A. (1992). The mythical fixed-pie - in Negotiating Rationally. Free Press: New York, NY. pp. 16-22.
  13. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (1987) From win lose to all-gain solutions - in Breaking the Impasse: consensual approaches to resolve public disputes. Basic Books Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 33-34.
  14. ^ Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Invent options for mutual gain - in Getting to YES: negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd Ed.). Penguin Books USA Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 56-80.
  15. ^ Lewicki, R., & Litterer, J. (1985). Strategies of integrative bargaining - in Negotiation. Irwin: Homewood, IL. pp. 114-123.
  16. ^ Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Separate inventing from deciding - in Getting to YES: negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd Ed.). Penguin Books USA Inc.: New York, NY. p. 60.
  17. ^ Mnookin, R., Pepper, S, & Tulumello, A. (2000). The testion between creating and distributing value - in Beyond Winning: negotiating to create value in deals and disputes. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. pp. 11-43.
  18. ^ Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Insist on using objective criteria - in Getting to YES: negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd Ed.). Penguin Books USA Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 81-94.
  19. ^ Lewicki, R., & Litterer, J. (1985). Generating viable solutions: moving from positions to needs - in Negotiation. Irwin: Homewood, IL. pp. 123-125.
  20. ^ Mnookin, R., Pepper, S, & Tulumello, A. (2000). The tension between empathy and assertiveness - in Beyond Winning: negotiating to create value in deals and disputes. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. pp. 44-68.
  21. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (1987). Fairness - in Breaking the Impasse: consensual approaches to resolve public disputes. Basic Books Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 21-25
  22. ^ Caldini, R. (2001). Commitment and consistency: hobgoblins of the mind - in Influence: science and practice (4th Ed). Allyn & Bacon: Needham Heights, MA. pp. 52-97.
  23. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (2006) Anticipate the problems of following through - in Breaking Robert's Rule: the new way to run meetings, build consensus, and get results. Oxford University Press: New York, NY. pp. 130-132.
  24. ^ Mnookin, R., Pepper, S, & Tulumello, A. (2000). Look to the future: dispute resolution provisions - in Beyond Winning: negotiating to create value in deals and disputes. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. pp. 270-271.
  25. ^ Bazerman, M., & Watkins, M. (2004). Preventing predictable surprises - in Predictable surprises: the disasters you should have seen coming, and how to prevent them. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA. pp. 153-258.
  26. ^ Lax, D. A., & Sebenius, J. K. (2006). Making lasting deals - in 3D Negotiation: powerful tools to change the game in your most important deals. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA. pp. 149-161
  27. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (1987). Creating a context for renegotiation - in Breaking the Impasse: consensual approaches to resolve public disputes. Basic Books Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 132-133
  28. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (1987). Stability - in Breaking the Impasse: consensual approaches to resolve public disputes. Basic Books Inc.: New York, NY. pp. 31-33
  29. ^ Susskind, L. & Cruikshank, J. (2006) Crafting "nearly self-enforcing" agreements - in Breaking Robert's Rule: the new way to run meetings, build consensus, and get results. Oxford University Press: New York, NY. pp. 133-153

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External links[edit]