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"Your Internet Connection is Unstable" - An Empirical Analysis of Online Negotiation in Times of Covid
The Covid-19 crisis has impacted the context and formats in which negotiations are carried out. Lockdown measures, adopted by many governments, put a stop, for months, to meetings routinely held in physical rooms. The author has been commissioned by a French major utility company, which had to renegotiate about 80 public-private contracts in 2020. Such a target proved impossible to meet through physical negotiation meetings. As a result, methodological support was required to equip the company’s negotiators with online negotiation awareness and best practices. This support built upon a survey designed by the author to investigate existing practices, difficulties and recommendations pertaining to the various working formats available (teleconference, telephone, emails). These questionnaires, together with a series of focus groups, provide an original set of data which the paper puts into perspective, in the light of the existing literature on negotiation mediated by an interface. The paper concludes with a synthesis of practical recommendations for online negotiators.