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Sarah Ogilvie

Disputants who decide to negotiate adopt certain frames of view that have been shaped by past experiences. These frames are used to construct meaning and to make sense of ongoing events (Putnam & Holmer, 1992). Just as previous experiences are involved in shaping presenting frames, information encountered during the negotiation context serves to influence frames and their further use (Donnellon & Gray, 1989). In this way frames, or conflict frames as they are known within negotiation research, can be conceptualised as dynamic constructs that are adopted and readopted during the course of the negotiation. As a function of the interactive process, the types of conflict frames that negotiators use to interpret and express information may converge (Pinkley & Northcraft, 1994). The current research explored the way information exchange in negotiation settings can lead to shifts in the use of frames. Changes in the way conflict is framed can arguably facilitate movement from dispute to resolution (Pinkley & Northcraft, 1994). In line with this premise, the current research also examined the relationship between shifts in frame use and negotiated outcomes. Drawing upon previous research into conflict frames, a frame typology was developed, piloted and refined. This typology was used to code negotiator communication within 45 simulated employment contract negotiations, with participants comprising 90 first year university students. The negotiation period was divided into two and frame use across the two halves was compared. Results revealed some evidence of frame convergence but no relationship with economic outcomes was found. Patterns in frame use did, however, reveal the unexpected finding that negotiators simultaneously increased or decreased their use of certain types of frames across the negotiation. Directions for future research are discussed with a particular focus upon closer assessment of relative shifts in frame use and further validation of the developed frame typology.

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