In negotiations, hard ball tactics rarely win out in the end

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Assistant Professor of Management Rachel Campagna's examination of the impact of trust between parties on their negotiation and post-negotiation behaviors, specifically the extent to which trust motivates effort and cooperative behavior after the deal, challenges perceived wisdom.

Daughter of an arbitrator and attorney, Rachel Campagna grew up in a home where negotiation was done for sport. She almost went into law but preferred to study the art of negotiation instead. Her examination of the impact of trust between parties on their negotiation and post-negotiation behaviors, specifically the extent to which trust motivates effort and cooperative behavior after the deal, challenges perceived wisdom, and has landed her work in top journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 

“Studies have argued that using anger as a negotiation tactic helps you extract more value from the deal because people don’t like being the recipient of anger tactics,” says Campagna. “They concede to stop the nasty behavior.”  

Campagna thinks this theory is short-sighted because it only relates to the contract terms of the two parties and fails to account for their long-term relationship.  

So, along with her colleagues, she developed a series of scripted simulations of employer-employee contract negotiations. During negotiations, some participants were given prompts to say things like, “This is really pissing me off!” or “You’re making me angry!” Others were given neutral prompts — “I am going to offer x-y-z” — while still others said positive things like “This is going pretty well so far!” To test her hypothesis about the long-term impacts of playing hard ball, participants were paid according to the value of their deal based on salary, bonus, and benefits.   

Chief findings across her two papers included: 

  • Using anger didn’t improve the deal. In fact, those who used anger felt compelled to give more of their monetary earnings to their counterparts to assuage their guilt. 

  • Those who used friendly prompts generally felt good about the relationship and kept more of their earnings for themselves. 

  • The use of anger undermined trust in both the deliverer and recipient of the anger tactic leading to “a spiral of distrust,” says Campagna, “which is costly.” 

  • Purposefully expressing anger causes the deliverer to invest more resources to ensure the deal won’t go south when implemented, which wipes out any financial benefit of the anger tactic in the first place. 

“It may sound cliché,” says Campagna, “but being a jerk does not pay-off.” Going for the win-win might be the best plan after all. Building a relationship right from the start yields better results in both the short and long terms. 

RECENT SELEC TED PUBLICATIONS 

Campagna, R., Mislin, A., & Bottom, W. (2019) Motivated by guilt and low felt trust: The impact of negotiators’ anger expressions on the implementation of negotiated agreements. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 32. 

Campagna, R., Crossley, C., Dirks, K. T. & Robinson, S. (2019). On the relation between felt trust and actual trust: Examining the pathways to and implications of leader trust meta-accuracy. Journal of Applied Psychology. 

Campagna, R., Mislin, A., Bottom, W., & Kong,  D. T. (2016). Strategic consequences of emotional misrepresentation in negotiation: The blowback effect. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101. 

  • Written By:

    Dave Moore | UNH Cooperative Extension
Photographer: 
Micky Bedell | Paul College