Journal Article | Negotiation and Conflict Management Research | August 2009

The Reality and Myth of Sacred Issues in Negotiations

by A. E. Tenbrunsel, K A. Wade-Benzoni, V. H. Medvec, L. Thompson and M. H. Bazerman

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of sacred issues in a dyadic negotiation set in an environmental context. As predicted, when negotiators focus on sacred issues, this negatively impacts the negotiation, producing more impasses, lower joint outcomes, and more negative perceptions of one's opponent; however, this is only true when both parties perceive that they have a strong alternative to a negotiated agreement. When negotiation parties perceive that they have a weak alternative, sacred issues did not have any effect on negotiation outcomes or opponent perceptions. These results suggest that the negative effects of sacred issues is driven in part by whether negotiators have recourse, such that exercising one's principles and values may depend on whether people can afford to do so. We conclude by suggesting that the impact of certain sacred issues may be contextually dependent and that the term “pseudo sacred” may actually be a more accurate label.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Values and Beliefs; Negotiation Process; Negotiation Tactics; Conflict of Interests; Perception; Cooperation;

Citation:

Tenbrunsel, A. E., K A. Wade-Benzoni, V. H. Medvec, L. Thompson, and M. H. Bazerman. "The Reality and Myth of Sacred Issues in Negotiations." Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 2, no. 3 (August 2009): 263–284.