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Negotiation as art and science

Author: Lic. Alex J. Godoy
Assistant Professor of the Department of Agribusiness Administration

Based on this premise, the science and art of negotiation can be applied to solve the most complex  social and business relationships straight through to simple issues of day to day; from the most complex issues in the Middle East to a negotiation with a child.

What are the theoretical foundations for the teaching of negotiation as a science?

Both Chester Karras, creator of the famous seminar on effective negotiation, and William Ury, co-founder of the Negotiation Program at Harvard University, give us important lessons on the methodology of a negotiation.

An adequate negotiation process should lead to the strengthening of long-term relationships between companies and what you should look for is a “win-win” relationship rather than a transactional one.

When a business enters into the negotiation process, they must understand that people or companies agree to negotiate because they have a common and particular interest but, it is essential to understand that not all interests are evident. Apart from what is being directly addressed, it is fundamental to determine the interests of one’s counterparts.

If we have successfully determined the interests of our opposing negotiator we find ourselves in a better position better suited to reach an agreement.

An experienced negotiator must be able to determine the range of possibilities, options, and alternatives that are beneficial for both parties and that are therefore areas where a satisfactory agreement can be reached.

There are five fundamental aspects to a good negotiation. The first has to do with alternatives, one should not present himself at a negotiation table without alternatives; there should always be several options and solutions. Anyone who sits down without alternatives will be disadvantaged.

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The second aspect is related to what Professors Fisher and Ury call BATNA, “The Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement”. The BATNA is the minimum acceptable agreement, a negotiator should not accept any alternative worse than his BATNA. It is necessary to clarify that one’s BATNA and the BATNA of the counterpart must be determined. This provides one with guidance on how far to push for an end result and where to give concessions.

The third is related to the management of the negotiating experience, the negotiation processes can be intense and lead to burnout. This can jeopardize the sustainability of business relationships. As negotiators we must ensure that the negotiation process is pleasant for all parties, and must always bear in mind that if we do not take care of the experience of the negotiator in the process, we run the risk of winning only in the short term. One must be very respectful and above all empathetic with the interests of the counterparts without losing the perspective of our own interests.

The fourth one relates to adequate preparation, the numbers must be prepared, the alternatives analyzed, the ground prepared, the formal and informal investigation of the negotiating counterpart, the micro and macro environment analyzed. If you want to face a negotiation in a good position you should do the homework.

Finally, any agreement reached in a negotiation must be formalized by a written document and there must be a clearly defined follow-up agenda. If we fail in this last aspect, we run the risk that the agreements will not reach real execution.

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Desde el punto de vista académico, Zamorano está incluyendo en la formación de los profesionales y hombres de negocios la negociación como arte y como ciencia, de tal forma que esta sea una competencia que ayude a una inserción exitosa en el mundo de los negocios de las presentes y futuras generaciones de Zamoranos.


Karras, Chester (1970). The negotiating game. World Pub. Co

Spangler, Brad (June 2003). “Zone of possible agreement (ZOPA)”. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Fisher, Roger; Ury, William; Patton, Bruce (2011) [1981]. Getting to yes: negotiating agreement without giving in (3rd ed.). New York: Penguin Books.

[1]Disonancia cognitiva: Conflicto psicológico de mantener actitudes y creencias incongruentes sostenidas de manera simultánea.

[2] Job burnout es un tipo especial de estrés relacionado con el trabajo – un estado de cansancio físico o emocional que también involucra un sentido de logros reducidos y pérdida de la identidad personal.



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