Interest Based Bargaining

This negotiating strategy starts with both parties stating their individual interests for articles in the contract. Once presented, both teams collaborate to find resolutions that address their shared interests, as well as to bring greater understanding between the two parties on their differing interests, in order to find possible resolutions both sides can agree to.

CEA and CUSD have continued to use interest-based bargaining this year. Due to the number of reopened articles and sections, and the limited number of days available to meet, both parties mutually agreed to slightly modify the IBB process and have worked together in this manner through the year.

If you are further interested in understanding interest-based bargaining, read excerpts of an article below by Brad Spangler. A link is also provided to the website for this full article.

Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining

By Brad Spangler

What is Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining?

Integrative bargaining (also called "interest-based bargaining," "win-win bargaining") is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a "win-win" solution to their dispute. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants. Interests include the needs, desires, concerns, and fears important to each side. They are the underlying reasons why people become involved in a conflict.

"Integrative refers to the potential for the parties' interests to be [combined] in ways that create joint value or enlarge the pie."[1] Potential for integration only exists when there are multiple issues involved in the negotiation. This is because the parties must be able to make trade-offs across issues in order for both sides to be satisfied with the outcome.

Why is Integrative Bargaining Important?

Integrative bargaining is important because it usually produces more satisfactory outcomes for the parties involved than does positional bargaining. Positional bargaining is based on fixed, opposing viewpoints (positions) and tends to result in compromise or no agreement at all. Oftentimes, compromises do not efficiently satisfy the true interests of the disputants. Instead, compromises simply split the difference between the two positions, giving each side half of what they want. Creative, integrative solutions, on the other hand, can potentially give everyone all of what they want.

Identifying Interests

The first step in integrative bargaining is identifying each side's interests. This will take some work by the negotiating parties, as interests are often less tangible than positions and are often not publicly revealed. A key approach to determining interests is asking "Why?" Why do you want that? Why do you need that? What are your concerns? Fears? Hopes? If you cannot ask these questions directly, get an intermediary to ask them.

The bottom line is you need to figure out why people feel the way they do, why they are demanding what they are demanding. Be sure to make it clear that you are asking these questions so you can understand their interests (needs, hopes, fears, or desires) better, not because you are challenging them or trying to figure out how to beat them.

Creating Options

After interests are identified, the parties need to work together cooperatively to try to figure out the best ways to meet those interests. Often by "brainstorming" -- listing all the options anyone can think of without criticizing or dismissing anything initially, parties can come up with creative new ideas for meeting interests and needs that had not occurred to anyone before. The goal is a win-win outcome, giving each side as much of their interests as possible, and enough, at a minimum that they see the outcome as a win, rather than a loss.

Using Integrative and Distributive Bargaining Together

Integrative bargaining is a good way to make the pie (joint value) as large as it possibly can be, but ultimately the parties must distribute the value that was created through negotiation. They must agree on who gets what. The idea behind integrative bargaining is that this last step will not be difficult once the parties reach that stage. This is because the interest-based approach is supposed to help create a cooperative working relationship. Theoretically, the parties should know who wants what by the time they split the pie.[3]