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The members of the German delegation destined for the peace negotiations in Paris (from left to right): Walther Schücking , Reich Minister of Post Johannes Giesberts , Reich Minister of Justice Otto Landsberg , Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau , President of the Prussian National Assembly Robert Leinert , Carl Melchior (January 1919)

Negotiation is a form of conversation about a controversial issue , which is characterized by conflicting interests of the parties and which aims at a balance of interests or an agreement.


The negotiation of conversation , meeting , discussion or debate is to be distinguished . Conversation is a generic term that also includes negotiations. Negotiations take place predominantly as verbal communication (exception is the "written negotiation"). Meetings are usually organized internally within organizations , while negotiations mostly take place across organizations. A discussion also contains controversial topics, but is differentiated from the negotiation by a lack of decisions or preparation of decisions. Debates, in turn, follow strict formal rules that do not necessarily have to form the basis of a negotiation.

Negotiations can be characterized as agreements on future action . The existing negotiating parties must first become aware that the other party is pursuing a different point of view, different interests or goals on a particular issue. In order to enforce one's own interests or goals, the parties have to get in touch , which happens through a negotiation.

Negotiations are objects of knowledge in political science , economics , philosophy , communication science , mathematics , sociology and psychology . The sub-disciplines are now treated as a unified research area in the form of negotiation theory . Although the term negotiation is very broad, it finds its limits in the transition from the peaceful reconciliation of interests “at the negotiating table” or “in court” through the escalation between the conflicting parties with the help of armed violence ( war ) or with the help of property rights ( patents ) or commercial law Sanctions ( economic war ).


Depending on the number of parties participating in a negotiation, two (bilateral negotiation) or more (multilateral negotiation) parties can meet and try to resolve conflicts through an agreement . There are bilateral negotiations in particular between buyers and sellers before a sales contract is concluded , when the delivery and / or payment conditions are still to be negotiated ( haggling during contract negotiations ). In multilateral negotiations, a distinction is made between unilateral and bilateral multilateral negotiations. The "unilateral" multilateral negotiations consist of one party and several opposing parties, as in auctions or tenders ; in "bilateral" multilateral negotiations, at least four parties face each other - with the possibility of forming coalitions ( working group , consortium , stock exchange ). In the latter case, the parties come into contact with one another, but not in unilateral multilateral negotiations.

The distinction between “distributive” and “integrative” negotiations or negotiation elements has also become widely accepted in the literature, whereby a negotiation can contain both distributive and integrative elements. A typical example of distributive industrial negotiations is the negotiation of the price . In contrast, the intra-organizational negotiation about the personal qualification of an employee is more of an integrative negotiation, since both sides can benefit from it if the employee has more know-how .

An "automated" negotiation is to be understood as an iterative communication and decision-making process between at least two actors who exchange ICT-supported offers and arguments to achieve a negotiation solution . Actors can be natural persons or software agents . Due to the growing importance of electronic markets, there is a high level of practical and scientific interest in the development of automated negotiation solutions.

Negotiating parties and negotiating topics

Below the negotiation threshold are the choice of partner and other social relationships , the communication of which takes place largely on the relationship level . However, the content level is decisive in negotiations , although relationship levels are also present within the framework of the Harvard concept through mutual respect . Negotiation options are available in the context of a business relationship between companies in business-to-business (company-company), business-to-consumer (company-consumer) and business-to-administration (company-public administration) and vice versa. In business-to-business , negotiations take place between companies, for example between commercial debtors and commercial creditors (on delivery and payment terms ) , between credit institutions ( interbank trade , correspondent banks) or between banks and large companies ( credit or loan terms ). In business-to-administration, there are negotiations on public procurement .

Negotiation topics concern all subject areas with economic , business , legal , sociological , political and private content. These are subject areas where there can be different points of view that can only be resolved through negotiations. The various forms of negotiation range from factual disputes between business partners to institutionalized negotiations in court or with or between authorities .

Negotiations serve either to prepare for later decisions or these are already taken during the negotiation. For the latter, the negotiators must have competencies as a delegation , otherwise the decisions have to be made by the delegating body ( company management , government , parliament ).


As with any demanding task , negotiations also require careful preparation. The preparation of the negotiation serves to find suitable ways to the negotiation success. This includes first of all working out the content of the negotiation (negotiating matter, conflict material), which must be examined in all aspects relevant to the negotiation. In doing so, negotiators first name the items to be negotiated and try to identify different characteristics. You should try to define utility functions for your own negotiation goals and assess how the other side is preparing. This is followed by an analysis of the representatives sent by the opposing party to the negotiation, their negotiating skills and goals. Then the parties involved agree on the date of the negotiation (when choosing the correct date for the negotiation, the findings from the work curve can be taken into account), the location, the agenda and the seating arrangements . This is followed by the definition of your own negotiation strategy.

Negotiation strategies

There are three types of negotiation strategy , namely the cooperative (also: integrative ), the compromise-ready and the competitive strategy . While the cooperative negotiation strategy seeks solutions to problems within the framework of cooperation and creates a win-win situation, the one that is willing to compromise aims at compromising . Cooperative strategies require a common goal of the negotiating partners, those willing to compromise recognize the deviating goals of the other negotiating participants and try to reconcile them by means of a compromise. Cooperative negotiation strategies are e.g. B. the Harvard concept , the dolphin strategy and win-win . The competitive negotiating strategy, on the other hand, regards the other negotiating party as an opponent to be defeated. It is geared towards confrontation , builds on mutual distrust and leads to a win-lose situation. The content of the negotiation can also be lies , threats , warnings , time pressure or bluffs . Competitive negotiation strategies (such as brinkmanship ) hold the risk for the uncooperative that the pressured opponent will later (e.g. if he is in an unassailable situation) take revenge. Typical confrontation negotiations are collective bargaining , salary negotiations , coalition negotiations or peace negotiations .

Anyone who has power and, in particular, negotiating power can also ultimately negotiate. This power can be expressed in a one-sided dependence of the supplier on his customers ( suppliers in the automotive industry ), market power or a high market share . If the power positions of the negotiating parties differ from one another, this affects the negotiating leeway and shapes the negotiation from the outset.


Depending on the size and importance of the negotiation, each party appoints a negotiator, secretary and other negotiating members. The number of negotiating members should be the same for all parties. Reducing complexity is of central importance in conflict management . The complexity can be simplified either locally / personally by reducing the number of participants or in terms of content by reducing the number of decision alternatives. Conflicts can be reduced or eliminated by outsourcing, postponing and leaving out conflicting topics ( deadlock ) and concentrating on undisputed issues. The course of the negotiation is influenced by factual and personal factors, which in turn belong to the content or relationship level. A process management provides in talks to positively influencing the negotiation process and the negotiating atmosphere.

In the course of a negotiation, both non-verbal and strategic elements, but also negotiation aids (so-called seconds ) can accompany the dispute. In order to present one's own interests and to appreciate the interests of the opponents, very different "negotiation rituals" have developed in different cultures. Normally the individual phases of negotiation are not formally indicated or stated. It is more common to have a smooth transition from one phase to the next, while the opening and closing of a negotiation are often accompanied by a (non-verbal) signaling act . It is not always necessary to fix a compromise found in writing. In many areas it is also possible to conduct negotiations through implicit (conclusive) action .

Negotiation goals

The main goal of a negotiation is to resolve a conflict of interests . Negotiations aim to achieve a collective negotiation solution that is accepted by all parties and thus binding through exchange, compromise or conviction in direct communication. They are supposed to bring about a mutually viable and implementable solution and agreement. It should be remembered that the more at stake in a negotiation, the more distorted the perception of the other party.

The more participants there are, the greater the risk of the lack of efficiency of the negotiations. Moderation and a tight agenda are required to maintain efficiency . According to the "two-pizza rule" of Amazon's Jeff Bezos , the maximum is eight people.

Negotiation result

Negotiations can “fail”, prematurely “break off” or “postpone”. In the event of a positive negotiation result, the negotiation is concluded, in which the most important results obtained are repeated again in order to eliminate a lack of agreement . The written minutes of the negotiations are drawn up by the secretary and later made available to the parties involved. It must contain the participants actually present, their contributions to the negotiation and the most important negotiation results. The agreement of the negotiating parties to the protocol leads to the drafting and signing of the negotiated contracts or - after national ratification - international agreements . If the interests and goals of the participants were too far apart and compromises could not be found, the negotiations have failed. The failure of international negotiations has so far only been given peripheral attention, both theoretically and empirically. Failure is primarily explained by incomplete information . The negotiators could only agree that neither an agreement on undisputed negotiation points nor an adjournment was possible.

Negotiations in the law

The term negotiation is also a legal term .


The notarial certification is legally referred to as a negotiation. In a negotiation before the notary the parties explain their on to authenticate will ( § 8 BeurkG ), which according to instruction by the notary in a transcript is received, read, approved and personally signed by the parties and the notary ( § 9 , § 13 BeurkG ).


In contrast to negotiations outside the law, it is not the parties themselves who decide on the solution to the conflict, but rather a third neutral party in court hearings - the court . In § 128 para. 1 ZPO is determined that the parties of a dispute have to negotiate orally in the trial court ( "principle of orality"). The principle of orality is also the regular form of the external course of legal proceedings in Europe and is one of the procedural maxims that replaced the principle of written form , which was still valid until 1879, in the German legal system. This perspective was reintroduced in 1909/1924 and allows the court to refer to written applications and evidence as well as to assess the spoken word in court. The oral hearing is thus the central element of civil proceedings . According to Section 128 (2) of the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO), a “written hearing” can exceptionally begin if the court has decided, with the consent of the parties, to make a decision without an oral hearing. The oral hearing in dispute and the taking of evidence must be combined with one another ( Section 279 (2) ZPO). Was preceded in writing submitted applications lodged by the parties, however, are only through hearing in court to process material.

The core part of every criminal proceeding is the main hearing regulated in Sections 226 to 275 of the Code of Criminal Procedure , which, according to Section 243 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, begins with the calling of the matter and must contain an instruction that the defendant is free to comment on the charge or not to testify on the matter.


Due to globalization , the importance of international markets is increasing, so that international negotiations ( English negotiation , French audition ) play a major role. The respective culture to which the negotiators belong must be taken into account. There are different linguistic , socio-cultural and organizational structures that can lead to misunderstandings among the negotiating parties. In order to avoid this, the cultural background of the negotiators must also be examined during preparation. These negotiating principles must already be taken into account when negotiating transactions such as export and import .

In many cultures (for example in Asia ) it is common to combine larger business negotiations and personal contacts. The latter serve the purpose of getting to know (better) the personality and character of the other person . They can take place before the start of the actual negotiations or in parallel with them. In Japan it is common for potential or actual business partners to take part in karaoke events. In negotiations between domestic and foreign managers, it is common for the domestic to introduce the foreigner to their country, region or city (e.g. sightseeing , visiting a cultural event or an event).

Negotiation and game theory

Within the rational choice theory , game theory makes the greatest contribution to explaining negotiations. Game theory differentiates between negotiation solutions and solutions that are not based on (imaginary) negotiations; game theory negotiation solutions are always linked to communication, cooperation and coordination. Game theory examines social situations in which the outcome of a negotiation depends not only on one's own behavior , but also on the behavior of the opponents. It differentiates between simultaneous and sequential negotiation processes . Both forms have a direct effect on the offer or counter offer of the negotiating parties. Game theory also examines the possible effects of strategic influencing factors on the process.

Decisive strategic influencing factors in negotiations are:

As a result of the game theory considerations, the respective negotiation steps are analyzed, taking the influencing factors into account, and the possible partial results are weighed up with regard to individual needs. Correspondingly, each negotiating party can select the alternatives with the greatest benefit from the alternatives .

Game theory, however, systematically neglects culture- and gender-specific aspects of the choice of negotiation strategies, although many empirical studies show that they play a major role. It is precisely the disclosure of interests required by the Harvard concept that is unusual in many cultures. In the Arab world z. For example, important interests are often not expressed at all or only hinted at, which means that European business partners do not recognize them or incorrectly assume interests that hardly play a role.

Famous negotiations

See also


  • Ricardo Büttner : Automated negotiations in multi-agent systems . Gabler-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-8349-2131-4 .
  • Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce M. Patton (Eds.): The Harvard Concept. The classic of negotiation technique. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main / New York 1984; 24th edition ibid 2013, ISBN 978-3-593-39920-1 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Ingmar Geiger: Industrial negotiations: empirical investigation of bargaining power and interaction in individual transactions and business relationships. German University Publishing House, 2007.
  • Peter Knapp, Andreas Novak: Efficient negotiation. Constructive negotiation techniques in daily practice. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Windmühle, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-937444-60-4 .
  • Udo Kreggenfeld: Negotiating² - Systemic negotiation skills for a complex world . Cornelsen Verlag Scriptor, Berlin 2010.
  • Matthias Schranner : Negotiating at the limit. 7th edition. 2007. (Background of the author: police leader of negotiations with offenders).
  • Andrea Ruppert, Martina Voigt: Salary and advancement: Myths - facts - models of successful negotiation. Shaker Verlag, 2009. (gender-specific aspects).
  • Leigh L. Thompson: The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator. 2008. (In-depth introduction to negotiation techniques with a scientific background).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Christian Eric Erbacher: Basics of negotiation. 2010, pp. 19-22.
  2. ^ Eva Krick: Negotiations by consensus. 2013, p. 41.
  3. ^ Ricardo Büttner : Automated negotiations in multi-agent systems. 2011, p. 75.
  4. ^ Ricardo Büttner: Automated negotiations in multi-agent systems. 2011, p. 54.
  5. Christian Eric Erbacher: Basics of negotiation. 2010, p. 64.
  6. Ludger Schneider-Störmann: Selling technical products with a system. 2015, p. 24.
  7. Torsten Schoen: Conflict Management Systems for Business Enterprises. 2003, p. 90 ff.
  8. Helmut Wannenwetsch: Successful negotiations in purchasing and logistics. 2013, p. 29.
  9. Fritz W. Scharpf: Theory of political entanglement. 1976, p. 90.
  10. ^ Eva Krick: Negotiations by consensus. 2013, p. 121.
  11. ^ Ingmar Geiger: Industrial negotiations. 2007, p. 137.
  12. Uwe Schimank: Elementary Mechanisms. In: Arthur Benz, Susanne Lütz, Uwe Schimank, Georg Simonis (eds.): Handbuch Governance. 2007, p. 40.
  13. ^ Elliot Aronson, Timothy D. Wilson, Robin M. Akert: Social Psychology. 2008, p. 304.
  14. Adam Lashinsky, Inside Apple , 2012, p 91
  15. ^ Holger Janusch: The failure of international negotiations. 2015, p. 25.
  16. ^ Bernhard Wieczorek, Rolf A. Schütze: Großkommentar Zivilprozessordnung. Volume 3, 2013, § 128 ZPO Rn. 1.
  17. ^ Bernhard Wieczorek, Rolf A. Schütze: Großkommentar Zivilprozessordnung. Volume 3, 2013, § 128 ZPO Rn. 71.
  18. ^ Bernhard Wieczorek, Rolf A. Schütze: Großkommentar Zivilprozessordnung. Volume 3, 2013, § 128 ZPO Rn. 6th
  19. ^ A b Christian Eric Erbacher: Basics of negotiation. 2010, p. 106 f.
  20. Udo Winand : Game Theory and Business Planning. 1978, p. 108.
  21. z. B. Claus-Henning Redicker: International negotiation strategies for sales talks. In: Study by the Department of Business English at the University of Hamburg, in: Anglo-American Wirtschaftsschriften. 1996, pp. 1-16.