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What you hear is what you get: The role of active listening in integrative business negotiations

Active listening is a promising conversation technique in negotiations because it should be helpful to better understand the other party and thereby facilitate the realization of joint gains. However, negotiation research has never empirically investigated its effect in the context of integrative business negotiations. In the present research, we studied the role of active listening following an offer that comprises two or more of several possible issues in videotaped and coded integrative negotiations. Lag sequential analysis of a preliminary dataset with 24 negotiations demonstrates that multi-issue activity-active listening patterns occurred above chance level. These patterns in turn triggered (more) integrative statements (i.e., multi-issue activity) and inhibited distributive statements (i.e., positional information provision and substantiation). Moreover, multi-issue activity-active listening patterns (and not active listening alone) positively related to the joint economic outcomes of the negotiation at the dyad level. These findings provide first insights into the beneficial effects of active listening in the context of integrative business negotiations.

Elisabeth Jäckel
University of Amsterdam

Alfred Zerres
University of Amsterdam

Joachim Hüffmeier
TU Dortmund University


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