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Future research

Sarah Ogilvie

In addition to the recommendations proposed throughout the discussion so far, future research must involve more comprehensive validation of conflict frame types to ensure that a standard typology can be established. Whether conflict frames are treated as expressed communication, or whether they are treated as cognitions that can be measured through expressed communication, the conflict frame literature does not entail a common platform from which to investigate the effects of framing upon the unfolding of negotiation interactions. In developing a set of frames with this objective in mind, current efforts were specifically directed towards capturing all aspects of negotiation. Drawing from the relevant literature, the frame characterisations of several researchers were synthesised and integrated to develop the current frame typology. After approaching this development from an a priori perspective, negotiator utterances were then characterised to ensure that the typology captured all of the features that negotiators could possibly frame. In seeking to broaden the application of the typology, efforts need to be focussed upon validating the typology in real world settings.

As described in the previous section, one method of validating frame types in this way would be to incorporate negotiator reflections about how they perceived events during the negotiation. Negotiator reflections could then be compared to the way that their utterances have been characterised using the existing typology. Once this approach has further informed the characterisations of frames, the typology needs to be tested across a variety of dispute types, including emotionally-laden disputes (e.g., divorce negotiations), more business-oriented transactional disputes and disputes involving power- and rights-based issues (e.g., human rights-based and environmental conflicts). Through a refinement of the existing typology using these suggestions, this scheme could be more extensively used to understand how information processing affects the various components of negotiation.

Researchers have argued that the Pinkley and Northcraft measurement approach (1994), which measures frames before and after negotiation, provides an understanding of the shared mental models that disputants possess because framing is an indication of the way that we interpret and reproduce information (Bazerman et al., 2000). However, perhaps the most informative way of understanding the way that information is framed and reframed between negotiators is through analysing both the types of information that influences framing and the resulting framing that occurs during a negotiation interaction communication. Certainly, in recognition of this possibility, Drake and Donohue (1996) propose that frames be redefined as communicative rather than cognitive constructs to increase the practical contribution of the concept to conflict resolution activity. Using their approach, conflict processes can be transformed as a result of shifting the way in which information is linguistically presented and not necessarily as a result of changes in the way that disputants reflect upon the issues at hand. Clearly, further investigation is required to determine whether dynamic conflict frame measurement approaches capture the same phenomena as approaches that measure frames before and after negotiation.

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