False negotiations: The art & science of not reaching an agreement

Edy Glozman
Netta Barak-Corren
Ilan Yaniv

The usual purpose of negotiations is to explore options and reach an agreement, if possible. We investigated a notable exception to this generalization, where a party negotiates without any intention of reaching an agreement. False negotiation occurs when a party gains more by stalling the negotiations until an external change takes place that improves its position considerably. While false negotiators aim to avoid agreement within the current frame of the negotiations, they also aim to keep the negotiation process alive, since walking away from the negotiation table could endanger their position. We report the results of a study that compared the actions of false and sincere negotiators. The false negotiators used competitive tactics that encumbered the negotiations, yet they concealed their intentions by maintaining a fa├žade of cooperation. Our theoretical discussion is focused on the balancing act involved in false negotiations and the challenges it poses for actors in social, managerial, and political settings. We conclude our analysis with an example from the realm of international negotiations.

September, 2013
Published in: 
forthcoming in Journal of conflict Resolution