Negotiations in the public sector: Applying negotiation theory to multiparty conflicts

Sanda Kaufman, Connie Ozawa, Deborah Shmueli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The negotiation field is replete with research, and academic and popular “how-to” books focusing on two-party, or dyadic, processes. The term “third party” in reference to intervention by facilitators, mediators and arbitrators, reflects the dominance of the dyadic frame. Recognition of the characteristics of multiparty conflicts and of the need to tailor to them negotiation prescriptions is not recent (Nyhart 1983; Bacow and Wheeler 1984; Kramer 1989; Keefe et al. 1989; Lax and Sebenius 1991; Polzer 1995; Pruitt and Rubin 1998; Crump and Glendon 2003). Nevertheless, multiparty negotiations have yet to receive adequate research attention.
We examine three public-sector, multiparty negotiation processes. They serve our purpose well: they typically involve individuals, public agencies at multiple levels of government, private and nonprofit organizations, and special interest groups. We highlight what is alike and different from dyadic situations. We discuss the meaning of these differences for negotiators, interveners, and stakeholders who are not at the negotiation table, and for negotiation theory prescriptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


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