Negotiations and Change: From the Workplace to Society

Negotiations and Change: From the Workplace to Society

Negotiations and Change: From the Workplace to Society

Negotiations and Change: From the Workplace to Society

Synopsis

Major changes within and between organizations are now generally negotiated by the parties that have a stake in the consequences of the changes. This was not always so. In 1965, with A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations, Richard Walton and Robert McKersie laid the analytical foundation for much of the innovation in the practice of negotiation that has occurred over the last thirty-nine years. Since that time, however, the field has undergone significant changes, and Walton and McKersie's ideas have been applied to a wide variety of situations beyond labor negotiations. Negotiations and Change represents the next generation of thinking. Experts on negotiations, management, and organizational behavior take stock of what has been learned since 1965. They extend and apply the concepts of Walton and McKersie and of other leaders in the study of negotiations to a broad range of business, professional, and personal concerns: workplace teams, conflict management systems, corporate governance, and environmental disputes. While building on those foundations, the essays demonstrate the continued robustness and relevance of Walton and McKersie's behavioral theory by suggesting ways it could be used to improve the management of change. Returning to its roots, the volume concludes with a retrospective by Richard Walton and Robert McKersie.

Excerpt

People have always tended to proclaim that their era is one of significant change, especially when their era is at the dawn of a new century. Our era is no exception. Indeed a good case can be made that major, perhaps historic, changes are occurring today in our workplaces and societies, driven by global market, technological, political, and demographic forces. But an even stronger case can be made that what distinguishes those past eras that are remembered as periods when change was translated into significant economic and social progress is that they were ones in which leaders of key institutions managed change effectively.

An important part of managing change involves negotiation. the essence of negotiation lies in identifying the interests of those involved and satisfying mutual interests while finding efficient and equitable trade-offs or compromises among interests that conflict. Negotiations entail crafting new agreements, sometimes explicitly and formally involving exchanges between parties, sometimes with the help of a neutral third party, and sometimes implicitly through the day-to-day informal interactions of people, groups, and organizations. So to understand how well decision makers are managing change, they—and citizens in general—need to assess how well both these tacit and formal negotiations are being carried out.

Recognition of the interdependence between negotiations and change has led to an explosion of research and teaching on these topics. Much of this activity can be traced back to a landmark study published in 1965, A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations by Richard Walton and Robert McKersie. That book laid the analytical foundation for much of the innovation in applied practice that has occurred over the last thirty-five years . . .

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