Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Making Collaborators Happy: The Outcome Priming Effect in Integrative Negotiation

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Making Collaborators Happy: The Outcome Priming Effect in Integrative Negotiation

Article excerpt


Collaboration is essential to public management. In the Chinese culture, collaborators' satisfaction is considered key to quality of collaboration. Focusing on the role of negotiation in collaboration, this article presents an integrative negotiation theory that explores the development of collaborators' satisfaction during negotiation process. Priming methodology was adapted to explore the causal relationship between collaborator's level of satisfaction and its predicting variables, such as experienced emotions during negotiations and sense of profitability. The results were pertinent to the field of collaborative public management and negotiation.


collaborative public management, negotiators' satisfaction, outcome priming, mindset, integrative negotiation


Public management styles have evolved with social and cultural changes. Information age has given rise to permeable social structures where people can connect across social and organizational boundaries (McGuire, 2006). The role of public managers has departed from the traditional decision making toward a more collaborative engagement. Their new role requires them to facilitate and operate in multi-organizational arrangements where focus is maintained on solving problems that could not be solved (or could not be solved easily) by a single organization (O'Leary & Vij, 2012). To collaborate means to co-labor and achieve common goals often working across boundaries and in multi-sector and multi-actor relationships (Agranoff & McGuire, 2004). By this definition, public managers have evolved from individual problem solvers to collaborative problem solvers (Zhang, 2005). Nevertheless, the process of collaboration for public managers could be rather complex (O'Leary & Vij, 2012). As managers need to balance many situational factors, developing a one-size-fits-all recipe for successful collaboration is difficult. However, it is possible to identify skills that can facilitate any collaborative process. O'Leary and Vij (2012) have highlighted negotiation, bargaining, and communication skills key to quality collaboration.

Role of Negotiation in Collaboration

Negotiation is an interpersonal decision-making process invoked to find a solution when achieving objectives is not possible unilaterally (Thompson, 2011). The process of negotiation, as related to public managers, reflects a lateral and hierarchical interdependence of people within public sectors. In public management, such interdependencies have become common for collaborators in resolving conflict and to solve problems. Researchers of the negotiation field have long been criticized for paying too much attention to the "cold" side of negotiation, namely the economic gain or loss (Thompson, Wang, & Gunia, 2010). Recently, the "warm" side of negotiation, such as pleasantness of the process and relationship between contributors has also gained attention from researchers as critical to negotiators' performance (e.g., Curhan, Elfenbein, & Eisenkraft, 2010; Curhan, Elfenbein, & Kilduff, 2009). We argue that this warm side is essential for collaborative integration worldwide, especially in Chinese context. The Chinese culture is more concerned with mianzi (face) and guanxi (relationship) aspects of interaction, compared with their Western counterparts (Hwang & Han, 2010). Therefore, generally when Chinese collaborate, they pay significant attention to the interpersonal harmony, face, and even social status (Graham & Lam, 2003). Neglecting the wann side of negotiation may handicap the follow-up collaboration of the negotiators. Again, from the generalized problem-solving perspective (Zhang, 2005), the practice of collaborative public management in China requires considering how to make collaborators happy or be satisfied with their cooperation.

People evaluate their experiences by two psychological processes: automatic feelings and analytic reasoning (Schneider & Shiffrin, 1977). …

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