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Frame Shifts and Negotiated Outcomes by Motivational Orientation

Sarah Ogilvie

In addressing the way that frame use could potentially vary across the course of a negotiation, it is important to reiterate the way that patterns in frame shifts were defined for the purposes of this study. Firstly, frame convergence was defined as negotiator's movement to a more similar frequency of frame use in the latter stage as compared to the former stage of the negotiation. This definition also includes cases wherein one party converges to the other in their frequency of frame use and the other party maintains the same frequency of frame use across time. Essentially, convergence refers to a decrease in the discrepancy of frame use over time.

Frame divergence, in contrast, was defined as the movement to a more discrepant use of frames between negotiators over time. This definition also incorporates instances wherein one party diverges in their use of frames and the other party maintains the same frequency of frame use across time. Frame maintenance was defined as instances in which there is no difference in the frequency of frame use between the former and latter stages. The final pattern of frame use was termed frame shift equivalence and, although no predictions were derived about this pattern, this pattern was defined as instances in which both negotiators simultaneously increased or decreased their use of frames over time. Research into the relationship between patterns in frame use and negotiation outcomes is scarce. In formulating the following predictions, research into the link between negotiator behaviour and outcomes will be considered and supplemented with research into the way that frames have been found to shift across the course of negotiation. In formulating predictions about shifts in frame use and likely outcomes, it was frame use as a function of time that was of interest and not aggregated use of frames across time. Analysis of frame use as a function of time is critical in being able to detect the patterns of convergence, divergence and maintenance.

Frame Shifts in the Cooperative Motivation Condition

As discussed previously, two cooperatively motivated negotiators display more cooperatively-oriented than competitively-oriented behaviours. Although there has been minimal research into how the use of conflict frames might shift during the negotiation process, cooperatively-oriented frames measured before and after negotiation have been found to converge more than competitively-oriented frames (Pinkley & Northcraft, 1994). Because the detection of cooperatively-oriented frame convergence might be difficult between two cooperators as a consequence of the likely initial similarity of frames, no predictions were formed about the use of these frames in this condition.

Although cooperatively motivated individuals exhibit a tendency to achieve integrative solutions (Deutsch, 1973), when high levels of cooperative behaviour are mutually displayed, negotiators become less driven to pursue their own interests. Hence, they fail to explore the extent of their outcomes, which effectively reduces their ability to achieve high joint gain (Ben-Yoav & Pruitt, 1984). When excess cooperation prevents effective problem-solving, negotiators need to be (re)motivated to pursue their interests , arguably through the introduction of competitive behaviours (Ben-Yoav & Pruitt, 1984). As a result, the probability of achieving more optimal outcomes is enhanced (Ben-Yoav & Pruitt, 1984). Because more competitive behaviours are likely to reflect competitively-oriented framing, it is predicted that:

H5: In cooperatively motivated dyads, convergence in the use of competitively-oriented frames (competitive aspiration, competitive outcome and non-inclusive process frames) will be associated with more integrative outcomes (high joint gain).

Frame Shifts in the Competitive Motivation Condition

During interactions between two competitively motivated as opposed to two cooperatively motivated negotiators, a greater number of threats and demands tend to surface. Thus, competitively motivated negotiators typically work to increase their power and control over the proceedings (Deutsch, 1973; 2000; Carnevale & Pruitt, 1992; Olekalns, 1994; Olekalns & Smith, 1998; Olekalns & Smith, 1999). Research has also found that when power- or rights-focussed communication is adopted, negotiators tend to increase their use of this type of communication as the negotiation progresses (Ury et al., 1988). Over time, as more tit-for-tat strategies are applied, the frequency with which they will employ power- or rights-focussed communication will become more similar. This phenomenon is associated with the occurrence of conflict escalation or conflict spiralling (Ury et al., 1988). When behaviours associated with use of the power/rights justification-based frame converge, research suggests that the outcomes yielded tend to be lower in joint gain (Carnevale & Pruitt, 1992; Putnam, 1990; Ury et al., 1988). It is thus predicted that:

H6: Between two competitively motivated negotiators, the use of power/rights justification-based frames will converge.

H7: The convergence of power/rights-based justification frames in competitively motivated dyads will be associated with more distributive outcomes (low joint gain).

To reduce the possibility of a stalemate in distributive negotiations, negotiators can increase the incidence of their conciliatory or cooperative behaviours (Olekalns & Smith, 1998; Putnam, 1990). Through the adoption of more cooperatively-oriented behaviours, the degree of problem-solving is likely to increase thereby facilitating more optimal negotiation outcomes (Olekalns, Smith & Kibby, 1996). The types of frames that are likely to give rise to more cooperative behaviours are cooperative aspiration frames, cooperative outcome frames and inclusive process frames. Thus, it is predicted that:

H8: The convergence of cooperative aspiration frames, cooperative outcome frames and inclusive process frames in competitively motivated dyads will be associated with more integrative outcomes (high joint gain).

As with the shift towards cooperatively-oriented frame use, when negotiators begin to adopt substantive issues frames, particularly in situations where competitive behaviours are evident, the likelihood of reaching more optimal agreements improve (Pinkley & Northcraft, 1994). It is thus predicted that:

H9: Convergence in the use of substantive issues frames in the competitively motivated condition will be associated with more integrative outcomes (high joint gain).

Frame Shifts in the Mixed Motivation Condition

In predicting the way that frames are likely to be used by two differentially motivated negotiators across time, there are two plausible, yet largely competing, accounts to consider. The first account suggests that, within mixed dyads, the cooperatively motivated negotiator, the cooperator, shifts to adopt the behaviours of the competitively motivated negotiator, the competitor (Olekalns et al., 1996). This account also implies that, in contrast to cooperators, competitors will maintain their behaviour over time (Kelley & Stahelski, 1970). This relationship implies that the cooperator will shift to adopt the frames used by the competitor, and that the competitor is less likely to be affected by the frames that are employed by the cooperator. Hence, the following prediction can be posited:

H10: In the mixed motivation condition, the cooperator will shift from a predominant use of their own frames to those frames predominantly in use by the competitor.

H11 - linked to H10: Frame maintenance should be more prevalent in competitors compared to cooperators.

In general, research suggests that convergence towards the use of more competitive types of behaviours and, by implication, towards the use of more competitively-oriented frames, is likely to result in more distributive outcomes (Ben-Yoav & Pruitt, 1984). Thus, convergence towards more competitively-oriented frames in the mixed motivation condition is likely to be associated with more distributive outcomes. Accordingly, it is predicted that:

H12 (Linked to H10 & H11): Convergent use of competitive aspiration frames, competitive outcome frames and non-inclusive process frames in the mixed motivation condition will be associated with more distributive outcomes (low joint gain).

The competing account of frame use in mixed motivation conditions emerges from research into the types of strategies that negotiators employ in dispute settings (Olekalns & Smith, 1999). This research suggests that mixed motivation negotiators may employ uniquely different strategies to same motivation negotiators in that they shift away from strategies associated with their motivation towards a new set of behaviours (Olekalns & Smith, 1999). Based on the previously discussed way in which the adoption of certain frames promotes similarly oriented behaviours, and in contrast to Hypotheses 10 and 11, it is predicted that:

H13: Negotiators in the mixed motivation condition will shift to adopt a set of frames that differs from those initially adopted in the negotiation.

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