A Different Way to Negotiate
Known by many names and practiced in many variations and settings: Win-Win Bargaining, Mutual Gains, Principled or Interest-Based Negotiation, Interest-Based Problem Solving, Best Practice or Integrative Bargaining. No matter which variation is used, Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) may offer parties more flexibility than traditional bargaining, not locking them into predetermined issues and bargaining positions. Instead, the process begins with understanding the problem and identifying the interests that underlie each side’s issues and positions.
When everyone understands the interests and concerns that lead a person or group to take a position on an issue, they often find that some of those interests are mutual, that both sides at the table are trying to achieve the same goal, just taking different approaches. And they frequently discover that what at first appear to be competing interests are not really competing at all. Dealing with each other in this way makes it possible to generate and consider options to satisfy particular interests that may never have been considered before.
Interest-based bargaining is a process that enables traditional negotiators to become joint problem-solvers. It assumes that mutual gain is possible, that solutions which satisfy mutual interests are more durable, that the parties should help each other achieve a positive result.
In the collective bargaining context, it assumes that negotiation, like other aspects of the collective bargaining process, can enhance the labor-management relationship, and that decisions based on objective criteria obviate the need to rely only on power. IBB captures some of the highest principles originating, but not always practiced, in traditional distributive bargaining, and makes those principles consistent parts of the process:
Where IBB Works Best
Is IBB Right For Your Organization?
When the parties and FMCS determine that IBB is appropriate, training is the next step. The program includes exercises which test participants’ ability to work through the process to completion -- an indicator of how well the parties will handle the process in actual negotiations.
With a decision to proceed, mediators facilitate a joint meeting of the participants to reach agreement on ground rules and protocols under which the bargaining will be conducted, an exchange of the issues to be negotiated, and steps for a transition to traditional bargaining if the IBB process breaks down.