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What is Integrative Negotiation?

John Lister
Updated May 17, 2024
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Integrative negotiation is a strategy where the goal is a result that is as good as possible for both parties. It can also be referred to as win-win negotiation. It is an alternate strategy to the more common negotiation technique of simply trying to come up with the best possible outcome for your own side, known as distributive negotiation.

The idea of integrative negotiation is to work together to find the outcome that best helps both sides. This requires both sides to put more effort than usual into understanding what the other side requires and desires from a deal. Analysts of the tactic say it works best when the two sides concentrate primarily on the main point of the deal, rather than coming up with many secondary points which they will then “trade off” as part of the negotiating process.

Also known as a "win-win solution," integrative negotiation can be difficult, as it tends to require a considerable amount of compromise on both sides. Groups of people who are not used to working together may have to consider the negotiation to be more of a team effort, rather than a competition. Although this can be difficult at first, many people who have experience with integrative negotiation find that it can work out to be beneficial for both sides.

Traditionally, most negotiations work on a distributive basis. Distributive negotiation works on the principle that both sides will be out to get the deal which best helps them. This is often reflected in the assumptions analysts make about how a hypothetical set of negotiations will proceed and be resolved. In this situation, the two parties tend to see any gain as the other party's loss and vice versa. Integrative negotiation can take this issue off the table by looking for the best situation for all parties concerned.

Integrative negotiation should not be confused with integrative analysis. The latter is a technique used in the field of negotiation theory, which aims to explain how and why negotiations usually turn out. Most versions of negotiation theory reduce it to a simple set of factors, along the lines of those used in such hypothetical situations as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Integrative analysis works from the perspective that negotiation is much more complex and should be broken down into multiple stages for analysis, from the first contact between the two sides right through to a deal’s formal completion.

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John Lister
By John Lister , Former Writer
John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With a relevant degree, John brings a keen eye for detail, a strong understanding of content strategy, and an ability to adapt to different writing styles and formats to ensure that his work meets the highest standards.

Discussion Comments

By anon947013 — On Apr 23, 2014

Mediators don't negotiate if they function properly.

By ysmina — On May 11, 2011

I don't think that there is a rule that only one negotiation method may be used at a time. Third parties use integrative negotiation along with other methods. It happens especially when there is more than two parties involved.

I think it shows the mediator's negotiation skills too. If the negotiations have reached a halt because it is not possible to resolve one issue with distributive negotiation, then, the third party can jump to a different method like integrative negotiation to get past the problem.

By serenesurface — On May 11, 2011

I agree that integrative negotiation is a little bit easier than distributive negotiation. The reason I think this is because distributive negotiation takes place when there is little to share between the parties. I mean if the negotiation is over one piece of land, for example, it's either a win or loss situation for each party. Neither side is going to want to lose and negotiation is not going to be easy or fun.

If you can do integrative negotiation, it means that the parties can actually share something. Since each side can gain, they don't feel as threatened by the other and might be more willing to make the negotiations work.

By candyquilt — On May 09, 2011

Were the negotiations for the Dayton Peace Accords an integrative negotiation? I know there was a lot of bargaining in Dayton between the Serbs, Bosnians and Croations. The U.S. was trying hard to make all parties happy. So, I think it is a good example for integrative negotiation, right?

John Lister

John Lister

Former Writer

John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With...
Learn more
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