The Utility of Relationships in Negotiation

Ashley D. Brown and Jared R. Curhan

in The Oxford Handbook of Economic Conflict Resolution

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730858
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Utility of Relationships in Negotiation

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  • Economics
  • Microeconomics
  • Econometrics and Mathematical Economics



This article emphasizes the recent developments identifying the importance of the relationship between the bargaining parties as an objective in and of itself, aside from the outcomes that emerge from the interaction. A focus on decision utility stresses that concern for the relationship and associated norms may affect preferences for various outcomes, which can be financially detrimental in the short-term yet economically advantageous in the long-term. Incorporating experienced utility seems to be especially relevant within a negotiation context, given that negotiators are often filled with a range of emotions and affective reactions. Negotiators might be motivated to preserve and improve their own identity through their relationships with their counterparts. Relationships between negotiators may affect preferences for different objective outcomes in the short term due to concerns over preserving the relationship relative to substantive concerns.

Keywords: bargaining parties; decision utility; experienced utility; negotiators; negotiation

Article.  7805 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Microeconomics ; Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

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