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Contributions to Research and Conclusions

Sarah Ogilvie

In developing a representative frame typology, the current study conducted both quantitative and qualitative research that assessed conflict frames across a range of dispute settings. The exercise of integrating previously existing frame characterisations was a significant component of the current study. Further validation of the current typology is required to address some of its limitations observed in the current study. Nonetheless, the lessons learned in developing this typology can be used to guide future research by elucidating some of the pertinent theoretical and methodological issues that underlie the conceptualisation and measurement of frames and frame shifts in negotiation settings.

Previous research into the way conflict frames are adopted and readopted throughout the course of negotiation has either used a qualitative, discourse analytic approach, to investigate frame use as it occurs during negotiation or has measured frame use before and after negotiation using a quantitative approach. This study represents a unique contribution to the field of conflict frame research in that patterns of frame convergence and divergence were measured quantitatively as the negotiation unfolded. In using this approach to measurement, some convergent and divergent shifts in frame use were observed, but few relationships between frame shifts and outcomes were found. However, a trend was observed in which negotiators increased or decreased their use of particular frames over time simultaneously, that is, towards frame shift equivalence. Measurement of frames in this way needs to account for the inherent limitations in averaging the differences in frame use and, accordingly, an alternative measurement approach to detect patterns of convergence and divergence was proposed. Limitations of the study aside, the current findings suggest that the process of framing is indeed a dynamic one, and that the way that negotiators frame information influences the way that information is framed in response. In the area of conflict resolution, this finding is encouraging: without some level of shared framing during negotiation, disputants could not readily understand the perspective of their opponent, which will often preclude agreement. Future research faces the challenges of further elucidating the complex conceptual and methodological issues that underlie the dynamic process of framing and reframing during the course of negotiation and understanding the influence of those factors that facilitate or inhibit the mutually beneficial resolution of conflict.

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