Strategy and Collective Bargaining Negotiation

By Carl M. Stevens | Go to book overview

Foreword

Professor Stevens' volume is a significant contribution because it develops and applies theoretical tools to the collective bargaining process. It provides a body of concepts and insights to interpret the strategy of the parties and their tactics at varying stages of agreement-making.

There have been few careful descriptions of what actually happens at the bargaining table, in smoke filled rooms, in the caucuses of each side, or at side bar conferences. There is widespread perplexity over the fact that negotiations often continue down to a strike deadline late at night, that negotiations take so long, and there is curiosity over what people can possibly accomplish in marathon sessions. Negotiators from labor and management, and mediators as well, have not provided any systematic interpretation of the events to which they have been so close. There is accordingly great need for imaginative theoretical work on the collective bargaining process to provide interpretation of the events and to separate the general and characteristic from the unique and the particular.

In recent years theories have been developed to encompass all negotitions: from those involved in parlor games to transactions between nations. At some level of abstraction such generality is no doubt useful as the "theory of games" has demonstrated. But such models, it is fair to say, have not helped much in illuminating labor and management bargaining. This is not to say that "games" in which the participants have both common interests and conflicting interests are not of some relevance to an analysis of collective bargaining. But there is need for a theoretical framework more specialized to collective bargaining and to industrial relations systems.

Professor Stevens examined a variety of particular negotiations in the course of his research, and his theoretical framework has grown from ideas confronting experience. It is a fruitful notion to regard the negotiation process as a succession of stages or games in which the parties and others, including government, are involved in shaping or reshaping the

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