Take home exam Essay Example

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Negotiation Take-Home Exam


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Question 1

  1. Identify the interests and the key issues that need to be resolved in this negotiation.

The first key issue regards the scheduling of the hospital’s surgical nurses by Ms. Judith Brady, R.N., the hospital’s nursing supervisor. Dr. Jordan complained that Ms. Brady scheduled surgical nurses according to her understanding of the customary hospital policy. Driven by an attitude of making the most out of the hospital’s operating time for training purposes, Ms. Brady’ manner of scheduling operations was such that nurses were time and again assigned to procedures they had no experience of. The problem with this method is that it prolonged the time surgeons took to perform an operation since surgeons had to wait for the nurses seeing as they were not able to routinely make out the instrument required. As a consequence, the operation room operated at full capacity and surgeons did not have ample time to wrap up a surgical procedure as it should be. They felt obliged to speed up completing an operation given that another procedure was scheduled just after their operation. The end result is that quality of care was compromised and therefore this is a key issue that needs to be resolved.

The second issue arises from the problem in the first issue in that Ms. Brady is accused of favouritism. In view of the fact that majority of the nurses did not have the required experience to serve surgeons in an operating room, Ms. Brady apparently favoured a few doctors over others and therefore she was inclined towards assigning them more experienced nurses to their procedures. Given the complaints from surgeons, this issue has got to be resolved.

From these issues, one key interest that prominently stands out is that of the care given to patients. Dr. Jordan, as the chief of surgery, felt that the choked scheduling of the operation procedures compromised the quality of care, which he took to be a medical problem. On the other hand, Harriet Briggs, the hospital’s administrator, was as well legally responsible for the care the patients received at the hospital. It is apparent that this conflicting interest involving Dr. Jordan and Harriet Briggs needs to be resolved.

  1. Identify any challenges or hurdles that may prevent the parties reaching a mutually satisfying agreement.

The manner in which parties approach the negotiation could be a challenge to reaching a mutually satisfying agreement and therefore hinder the negotiation. There are two key approaches to negotiation: (1) A win-win or integrative approach; and (2) A win-lose or a distributive approach. In the first approach both parties argue based on their interests and therefore they will negotiate in such a way that they care for each party’s interest in striking an agreement. In the second approach, each party’s ultimate goal is to win and make sure the other party loses at whichever cost. In short, under this approach, parties negotiate based on their positions. Taking the case where the parties opt to solve their dispute based on a win-lose approach, it will be hard for them to reach a mutually satisfying agreement (Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003).

It is could as well be challenging if one party chooses to overlook the other party’s problem and becomes self-centred. For example, Harriet Briggs may well choose to neglect surgeons’ problem. In such a situation, the parties may not be able to reach a mutually satisfying agreement unless they identify with their individual interests along with the options available for them to strike a deal. This is because the other party may agree just to suit their reasons, not the other party’s reasons (Notini, 2005). It is therefore important for the parties to identify with and attend to the other party’s difficulty as a way out to solving their own.

The parties may as well not reach a mutually satisfying agreement if either party acts in a hostile way. Actions such as making cynical comments to the other party, humiliating the other party, discriminating the other party, unfair criticism, attempts to make the other party feel culpable or feel inferior, and using trivialising words, among other hostile behaviours could improperly pressure the other party, hence, deter the parties from reaching a mutually satisfying agreement. Such actions are just intended to help one party «win» at the expense of the other party. They tend to give rise to bitterness, lack of ownership on the decision that has been arrived at, lack of initiative from the other party once a problem arises, taking out goodwill, broken relations, and vengeance. Even though they at times work, they produce short-term gains but run into long term expenses (Fisher & Ury, 2011).

Time pressure and use of delay strategies are other probable challenges and hindrances to reaching a mutually satisfying agreement. Delay strategies could arise where one party regards themselves as the more important party and is therefore the one to determine the course of the negotiation. For example Dr. Jordan could consider surgical operations to be more important than administrative functions performed by Harriet Briggs and Judith Brady. Such a strategy puts fear on the other party and exerts some pressure upon them. As a result, the other party may forcefully concur with whichever agreement that is arrived at simply to keep the negotiation short (Lodder & Zeleznikow, 2005). This will not result in a mutually satisfying agreement.

  1. Will power and ethical issues have any impact on this negotiation? Explain.

In negotiation usually come up with different alternatives. Parties form their individual alternatives devoid of including the other party or parties. Given this, it is true that different parties will most probably form attractive or better alternatives compared to the alternatives from other parties. Out of this, the party with the attractive alternative most probably would desire to persuade the other parties to adopt his alternative. This ability of one party to persuade the other party or parties to give in to their alternative gives that party power over the negotiation. Also a party may obtain power from their position or if they are in command of key resources. Therefore, this party can use this power to their competitive advantage and dictate the direction of the negotiation. The party may opt to walk out of the negotiation with no agreement, demand more from the antagonists, and choose at what time to consent to the terms of the negotiation (Brett, 2000). Such actions will undoubtedly impact on the negotiation between Dr. Jordan, Judith Brady and Harriet Briggs.

Also, in negotiation, ethical issues are vital to accepting the character of the negotiation. To reach a mutually satisfying agreement, parties to a negotiation ought to uphold high ethical standards. The parties to a negotiation must steer clear of self-interests or other temptations to practise unethical behaviour. Unethical behaviour is motivated by three underlying factors: (1) craving to defeat the opponent(s), (2) quest for profit; and (3) the desire to cover or re-establish some injustice. Such moral codes may well impinge on the negotiation (Harvard Business School Publishing, 2003).

  1. Outline at least two optional “package deals” that Mary could consider proposing to Dr. Jordon, Harriet Briggs and Judith Brady to deal with these issues, with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the offer.

The first option Mary could propose to Dr. Jordon, Harriet Briggs and Judith Brady is that of hiring additional experienced nurses. With this option, surgeons would work with nurses who are aware of the situation in the operation room and what is expected of them. Then, Judith Brady can mix up experienced with less and non-experienced nurses when scheduling nurses such that these nurses can learn from the more experienced nurses. In this manner, time used up to perform an operation may well be cut down, surgeons will not complain of favouritism and the quality of care will not be compromised. However, this option is subject to availability of funds within the hospital’s coffers. Also, managing a large pool of nurses could be tricky and it could be a problem if the operating rooms are tiny and the number of people required in the OR in the course of an operation is restricted.

The second option Mary could consider is that of increasing the number of operating rooms and developing a formula Judith Brady would be required to follow to schedule nurses. Therefore, even though the less experienced nurses would result in surgeons using up more time performing an operation, there will be no problem of ORs being choked with operations, hence; quality of care will not be compromised. Also, by means of the formula favouritism will be reduced. This option could be hindered by lack of sufficient funds seeing as it could be an expensive venture. Also, it could require more time to implement since construction takes a lot of time.

Question 2

Identify the advantages and disadvantages of using negotiation, mediation or litigation to resolve this dispute, and recommend a strategy, including advance preparation, for resolving the dispute.


Negotiation involves a backward and forward communication between parties to strike a common balance or to resolve their differences.

  • Advantages

Negotiation is virtually part of human’s daily existence. This process is voluntary. It is also a bendable process since it does not have strict procedural rules. Parties interested in the matter along with their representatives, if any, profile the negotiations to fit their individual needs. Although the process does not warrant success, it is very much possible that parties will strike a mutually satisfying agreement if they negotiate based on their common needs as well as interests plus the use of standard means or what is referred to as an integrated/ “win-win” approach. Also, a positive outcome out of a negotiation process binds those parties who were involved in the negotiation. In addition, the process may possibly maintain or even better improve the parties’ relations if they reach a mutually satisfying agreement. This option is also not as costly as other dispute resolution processes, such as litigation.

  • Disadvantages

Despite the many advantages attributable to negotiation, this process is bedevilled by several drawbacks. Parties to a negotiation could be of unequal power, if powerful parties choose to exercise their power in negotiation to persuade the other party, the outcome of such a process may well be not mutually satisfying. Seeing as the process is voluntary, a party may opt to walk out of the process at any point thereby prematurely terminating the process without remedy. Also, negotiation does not assure that all parties are of good faith and can be trusted. Moreover, some parties may use delay tactics to derail the process as a means of keeping the other party or parties from using other means to resolve the dispute (Berton, 1999).


Mediation is a way of resolving disputes by means of a neutral or impartial person(s) called a mediator(s). The mediator facilitates negotiation between conflicting parties to reach a mutually satisfying agreement (Moore, 1996).

  • Advantages

Mediation is a useful process to dispute resolution particularly when the disputing parties want or wish to sustain their ongoing association, for example, neighbours, family ties, business partners, and labour relations, among others. Mediation does not conform to any fixed set of laws such that parties can plan the process to go well with their needs. It supports a consensual approach as opposed to an adversarial approach. There being a mediator makes easy for the disputants to look at settlement alternatives frankly seeing as this is a third-party and neutral party (Moore, 1996).

The mediation process is confidential and the mediator is not supposed to reveal any information regarding the process with no permission. The process is also not binding; if parties reach an agreement and still feel dissatisfied they are free to pursue other channels such as arbitration or litigation. Moreover, the process is generally fast; it costs less and saves on energy. There is also a high possibility of the final outcome convening both parties’ needs as well as interests as they are the ones who delineate the terms of the ultimate agreement. Parties in mediation also share the cost of mediation; therefore, they have command over a one and the same stake in the result and a have sense of ownership over the process (Moore, 1996).

  • Disadvantages

Notwithstanding the benefits of mediating, the process does not lead to a binding agreement. Therefore, the defendant might merely agree to mediation, but fail to cooperate totally with an endeavour to hold-up resolving the dispute. Also given that parties to mediation meet head to head, the process might be swayed by power issues, if one party is more powerful. If the mediator is iron-willed, they can bring to bear excess command over the mediation and impinge on the final decision. Mediation is confidential and non-adjudicative; therefore, it cannot bring into being lawful precedents (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000).


Litigation is a process where a party seeks to resolve a dispute in the open court system under the applicable legal procedures.

  • Advantages

The advantage of litigation is that court systems work under well-established rules of procedure as well as principles that have been built and improved over a long period of time; therefore parties do not have to start creating their own rules. The public court system is also relatively cheap seeing as court services as well as the judge or the jury are paid by the government. Litigation also allows for the courts to connect with other parties such as subcontractors to strengthen the proceedings. Also the judge or jury, for the most part, are not affected by the outcome of the case personally and a party can appeal a decision of the judge or the jury; hence it guarantees some form of fairness. Moreover, given that the court is a public place, there is neutrality of the territory (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000).

  • Disadvantages

There are some limitations of litigation. The courts bring to play a lot of complex rules along with procedures which consume a great deal amount of time hence derail the process of justice. Lawyers are also expensive to afford as they do charge exorbitant legal fees. Also there are courtroom challenges such as lots of cases being handled at the same time and there may be no guarantee of getting a room or failure of one party to appear in court on the set date. Judges may as well lack the required knowledge or the relevant experience in the field or the subject matter. The ability to appeal does not guarantee finality. Judges can as well be bribed (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000).

Preparing a Strategy for Resolving the Dispute

Preparation is a very important factor in negotiation given that parties will be defending their needs and interests or positions. However, it is always crucial that parties adopt an integrated or win-win strategy where negotiation is centred on needs and interests rather than positions. Ahead of adopting such a strategy there in need to conduct a thorough initial assessment. This entails studying the disputed subject matter. All relevant facts to the dispute have got to be collected and the background of the other party, Lou, studied in detail to get a glimpse of their background as well as their negotiating interests (Berton, 1999).

After that competing interests will be harmonised and reconciled appropriately. Of course alternatives to the negotiation will be formulated, particularly the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), but, for the most part this will entail creating options for a mutual gain. Creativity and brainstorming will come in handy in understanding the other party’s interest and how to satisfy them. Also house rules and norms will be formulated as a way of determining how the negotiation is to be handled (Berton, 1999).

Question 3

Identify potential cognitive biases and communication problems that may occur as Richard and Frieda attempt to resolve the issue. What advice would you give Frieda so that these problems are minimised.

Cognitive Biases

Negotiation often entails collecting information so as to try to understand the other party. The gathered information needs to be processed, however, in the course of processing this information; people tend to make systematic errors. This leads to what is generally referred to as cognitive biases. Cognitive biases, by their nature, are inclined towards holding back a negotiator’s recital. There are up to twelve known cognitive biases that include: (1) illogical commitment; (2) mythical fixed-pie beliefs; (3) anchoring and adjustment in decision making; (4) problem and risk of issue framing; (5) availability of information; (6) easy win curse; (7) negotiator overconfidence; (8) law of few numbers; (9) convenient biases; (10) endowment effect; (11) disregarding others’ cognitions; and (12) thoughtless devaluation. Each and every one of these biases may well occur as Richard and Frieda try to resolve their issue regarding going green (Thompson & Nadler, 2000).

Since cognitive biases usually take place out of wakefulness as negotiators collect and process information, managing them is quite easier said than done. The foremost way to manage them is to be accustomed to the fact that may well occur; therefore Richard and Frieda ought to mull over their side effects. However, research has proven that awareness alone is not sufficient to work against their effects. The next viable way out is for Richard and Frieda to have a structured dialogue regarding them (Thompson & Nadler, 2000).

Communication Problems

Negotiating parties have got to communicate or put in other words negotiation is essentially communication. Good communication can make parties change their attitude to negotiation, avert or rise above stalemates and confusion and help to get better interaction. However, communication could be hindered by several factors and therefore derail or put an end to negotiation. These factors include choice of the wrong style of communication, inability to communicate well verbally or failure to understand the use of non-verbal clues, such as facial expressions, and gestures, among others. Also if parties do not actively listen to each other, they will not be able to understand each other clearly and the exchange of information will be dealt a blow (Oetzel & Ting-Toomey, 2003).

To overcome such difficulties parties should consider using questions and seeking clarification where and when appropriate. Parties should as well listen keenly as the negotiation takes place. It is also important to recognise the cultural background of each party. If the parties use a spokesperson, change spokespeople as different people communicate differently. Parties should be compassionate and vigilant to wholly understand the deal.


Berton, P. Hiroshi, K. and Zartman, B. (1999). Justice, Fairness, and Negotiation: Theory and Reality. New York, St. Martin’s.

Brett, J. M. (2000). Culture and Negotiation. International Journal of Psychology, 35 (2): 97-104.

Deutsch, M. and Coleman, P. (eds.) (2000). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Fisher, R. and Ury, W. (2011). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books.

Harvard Business School Publishing (2003). Negotiation. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Lewicki, J.R. Saunders, D.M. Barry, B. and Minton, M.W. (2004). Essentials of negotiation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Moore, C. (1996). The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflicts. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Oetzel, J. G. and Ting-Toomey, S. (2003). Face Concerns in Interpersonal Conflict: A Cross-Cultural Empirical Test of the Face Negotiation Theory. Communication
Research, 30: 599-624.

Raiffa, H. (2002). Negotiation Analysis: The Science and Art of Collaborative Decision Making. Belknap Press. Cambridge, MA.

Thompson, L.L, (2009). The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator. 4th edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall.

Thompson, L. and Nadler, J. (2000). Judgmental Biases in Conflict Resolution and How to Overcome Them. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.