Best alternative to a negotiated agreement

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In negotiation theory, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA (no deal option) refers to the most advantageous alternative course of action a party can take if negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached. The exact opposite of this option is the WATNA (worst alternative to a negotiated agreement). The BATNA could include diverse situations, such as suspension of negotiations, transition to another negotiating partner, appeal to the court's ruling, the execution of strikes, and the formation of other forms of alliances.[1] BATNA is the key focus and the driving force behind a successful negotiator. A party should generally not accept a worse resolution than its BATNA. Care should be taken, however, to ensure that deals are accurately valued, taking into account all considerations, such as relationship value, time value of money and the likelihood that the other party will live up to their side of the bargain. These other considerations are often difficult to value, since they are frequently based on uncertain or qualitative considerations, rather than easily measurable and quantifiable factors.

Oftentimes, it is even more difficult to determine the BATNA of the other party. However, the information is crucial as the BATNA determines the other side's negotiation power. Sometimes, conclusions can be drawn by determining his/her main interests and the negotiation itself can be used to verify or falsify the assumptions. If, for example, it is assumed that a very early delivery date is of key importance to the negotiating partner, deliberately setting a later delivery date can be proposed. If this late delivery date is decidedly rejected, the desired delivery date is likely to be of great importance.[2]

BATNA based tactics[edit]

Because of the importance of the BATNA for the negotiation success, several tactics focus on weakening the opponent's BATNA. This may be achieved e.g. by striving for exclusive negotiations, delaying or accelerating the ongoing negotiations or limiting the negotiation partner to technical systems. If a negotiator is faced with such tactics it is his/her task to examine the possible consequences for their own BATNA and to prevent or counteract any deterioration of the own party's BATNA.[3]

BATNA and the order of negotiations[edit]

The BATNA can also influence the order in which negotiations are taken up with potential contracting partners. Favorable is a sequential approach. Here one starts negotiations with the less favored partners and proceed negotiations with the preferred option afterwards. In this way there is the BATNA of a contract with the less favoured partner.[4]


The BATNA is often seen by negotiators not as a safety net, but rather as a point of leverage in negotiations. Although a negotiator's alternative options should, in theory, be straightforward to evaluate, the effort to understand which alternative represents a party's BATNA is often not invested. Options need to be actual and actionable to be of value,[5][third-party source needed] however, without the investment of time, options will frequently be included that fail on one of these criteria.[6][citation needed] Most managers overestimate their BATNA whilst simultaneously investing too little time into researching their real options.[third-party source needed] This can result in poor or faulty decision making and negotiating. Negotiators also need to be aware of the other negotiator's BATNA and to identify how it compares to what they are offering.[7][page needed]

Some people may adopt aggressive, coercive, threatening and/or deceptive techniques. This is known as a hard negotiation style;[8] a theoretical example of this is adversarial approach style negotiation.[8] Others may employ a soft style, which is friendly, trusting, compromising, and conflict avoiding.[9] According to Fisher and Ury, when hard negotiators meet soft negotiators, the hard negotiators usually win their position, but at the cost of potentially damaging the long-term relationship between the parties.

Attractive alternatives are needed to develop a strong BATNA. In the best-selling book Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, the authors give three suggestions of how to accomplish this:

  1. Creating a list of actions one might take if no agreement is reached
  2. Converting some of the more promising ideas and transforming them into tangible and partial alternatives
  3. Selecting the alternative that sounds best

In negotiations involving different cultures, all parties need to account for cultural cognitive behaviors and should not let judgments and biases affect the negotiation. The individual should be separate from the objective.[9][page needed]

The purpose here, as Philip Gulliver mentions, is for negotiation parties to be aware.[10]

Preparation at all levels, including prejudice-free thoughts, emotion-free behavior, bias-free behavior are helpful according to Morris and Gelfand.[11]

Types of BATNA[edit]

  1. Walk-away BATNA
  2. Interactive BATNA
  3. Third-party BATNA

Walk-away BATNA[edit]

   When the outcome of negotiation is just unacceptable and two parties  sees the deal as loss or when you might have to use the BATNA for it, then the situation is a walk away BATNA. For example, if you are offered a job for 45000 a month, but there's an even better one at another company for 50000 a month. Then 50000 is your BATNA or walk away BATNA.

Interactive BATNA[edit]

Third-party BATNA[edit]

   Third party BATNA indulgence are seeked when two parties in negotiation are not able to come to a common conclusion on their own or the dispute between the is endless. So, the third party indulgence is required in the form of:
1) Mediation: It's a neutral third party to help the disputing parties resolve the dispute on their own. Mediation does not resolve the dispute, they just facilitate it.
2) Arbitration: A neutral third party is brought in to arbitrate or resolve the negotiation through BATNA. Unlike, mediation they resolve the issue.
3) Litigation: When the negotiation turns worse then the authoritative third party intervene in the form of law and the issue resolved in the court and both parties have to comply with the decision.


BATNA was developed by negotiation researchers Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Program on Negotiation (PON), in their series of books on principled negotiation that started with Getting to YES, unwittingly duplicating the game theory concept of a disagreement point from bargaining problems pioneered by Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash decades earlier.[9][12][13] A Nash Equilibrium is reached among a group of players when no player can benefit from changing strategies if every other player sticks to their current strategy.[14] For example, Amy and Phil are in Nash Equilibrium if Amy is making the best decision she can, taking into account Phil's decision, and Phil is making the best decision he can, taking into account Amy's decision. Likewise, a group of players are in Nash Equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "::증권용어사전::". (in Korean). Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. ^ Jung/Krebs, p. 42.
  3. ^ Jung/Krebs, p. 143.
  4. ^ Jung/Krebs, p. 44.
  5. ^ Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
  6. ^ Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement | YArooms
  7. ^ Negotiation, Readings, Exercises and Cases, Roy J. Lewicki[full citation needed]
  8. ^ a b Nolan-Haley, Jaqueline M (2001). Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Nutshell. Thomson West. pp. 39–50. ISBN 978-0-314-18014-8.
  9. ^ a b c Fisher and Ury, Roger and William (2011). Getting to YES. Penguin Books. pp. 1–170. ISBN 978-0-14-311875-6.
  10. ^ Gulliver, P.H (1979). Disputes and Negotiation: A Cross Culture Perspective. Academic Press. p. 287.
  11. ^ Morris, Michael W.; Gelfand, Michele J. (2004). "Cultural Differences and Cognitive Dynamics: Expanding the Cognitive Perspective on Negotiation". In Gelfand, Michele J.; Brett, Jeanne M. (eds.). The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture. Stanford University Press. pp. 45–70. ISBN 978-0-8047-4586-4.
  12. ^ Myerson, Roger B. "Nash Equilibrium and the History of Economic Theory" (PDF). Journal of Economic Literature. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  13. ^ Myerson, Roger B. (1999). "Nash Equilibrium and the History of Economic Theory". Journal of Economic Literature. 37 (3): 1067–1082. ISSN 0022-0515.
  14. ^ Hawkins and Steiner, Jeff and Neil. "The Nash Equilibrium Meets Batna" (PDF). Gamed Therory Varied Uses in ADR. Harvard University Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2012.

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