Negotiation Role-Play

In Laurie Weingart's role-playing sessions, each member of the negotiating couple (in this case, a candidate for a junior faculty position and a department chair) scores points depending on how well they negotiate certain issues: lab space, teaching load, start-up funds, lab location, and salary, for example. Each negotiator has their own goals and priorities and they earn or lose points depending on how they resolve and settle an issue. The chair wants a lot of teaching responsibilities and needs to offer low start-up funds and salary, for example, but the candidate prefers a lab in a good location, a light teaching load, good start-up funds, and comensurable salary. Both the chair and candidate share some preferences--both want to ensure there is summer salary support for the first couple of years (it's standard for that department) and both would like the starting date to be later rather than sooner.

Stephanie Weinstein and Brian Knutson, attendees of Weingart's Survival Workshop, agreed to participate in the ficticious role-playing scenario. Weinstein has a Ph.D. in nutrition from Cornell University and has been conducting postdoctoral research at the National Cancer Institute in nutritional epidemiology. She is in the early stages of career exploration and will probably pursue a career in either the government or the private sector. She plays the role of the candidate seeking a junior faculty position. Knutson received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University and has been researching how the brain processes emotions at the University of California, San Francisco, as a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow. He is currently moving along the academic career path, hoping to land an assistant professorship. Knutson has already had four "real" interviews and has two offers. He plays a department chair interviewing the candidate.



Chair: So, why don't we start off with issues that are most important to you and then we can go from there.

The chair is asking for information about priorities.

Candidate: Well there are a lot of things that are important in these decisions. Certainly, salary's important, where my lab is, what the payments for summer support are. The amount of space. How much teaching is expected ... really all these issues are on the table. Moving expenses, starting up funds ... really everything is important to me.

The candidate is being nonresponsive.

Chair: Obviously. What should we talk about first?

Candidate: Well, why don't you tell me what a typical offer might be like? Give me an idea of what you're considering.

The candidate is again being nonresponsive, but is asking for an offer.

Chair: Well as you say, all the issues are important and that means we have a lot of flexibility in coming up with different packages. Of course the package that you get will depend on what is most important to you, what you are most interested in, and what will help you the most to be an effective faculty member. What helps you most may not help another faculty member. It's a matter of your own personal preferences. Of course salary's variable, I can tell you ranges and we can work from there.

Good attempt at setting the stage for an "integrative negotiation."

Candidate: Yeah, I would say salary is a big thing.

The chair now knows that the candidate thinks that salary is a high priority.

Chair: OK. So typically our salaries start for beginning faculty at $38,000 and then they go up. Now you've had X-years of postdoctoral experience and lots of publications. So you're on an upward trajectory; you've had some experience and so you would not start at $38,000.

The chair is setting the stage for an offer.

Candidate: Yeah, I would hope--I mean, I'm actually making close to that now--I really would expect to almost double that starting salary.

Candidate wants an offer and is justifying the request.

Chair: Yes, being the university that we are, you would think we would have abundant resources to pay you industry standard, but of course doubling of your salary is going to be impossible for us. But we could certainly go up from that salary and add $5000. It's not unwarranted for starting faculty at $43,000.

Candidate: Well, I should just tell you that I'm considering some positions within the government and GS-13 start around $60,000.

A power tactic--the candidate is showing a strong alternative to the chair's offer.

Chair: Really?

Candidate: Yes, postdocs can get a GS-13 at a government position. And those positions may have no teaching load. So if I'd be teaching as well I would expect to be close to that.

The candidate is giving the chair more information to justify her salary request.

Chair: OK. Well, maybe what we should do is visit some other issues and see how we can balance those off against raising your salary. We don't have new faculty starting off at $60,000. But to get you near that range we'd need to make some other considerations. So, I'm going to give you a figure right now, the top of our payscale is $52,000. That's the highest possible salary we can start you off at. Now, let's talk about moving expenses. We don't usually cover moving expenses. And if we were going to give you a higher salary, you could, you know, use some of that to cover moving expenses.

The chair shifts to another issue, once a possible impasse is realized on salary.

Candidate: Right, I certainly see that as negotiable. I would suggest that we maybe hold off on that ... it's probably a small amount of money. I should just say that I do have a lot of equipment, so the amount of space I need would be pretty large.

The candidate is providing more information on what is of priority to her.

Chair: OK. Well, let's come back to that. The reason I say let's come back to that, is to ... let's keep all the money stuff together. So another way of trying to approximate the salary you might get is to give you summer support to augment your salary.

The chair is linking issues together using logic and is trying to develop a trade-off across two issues--salary and summer support.

Chair (cont.): Now, not all faculty get summer support, so what we could do is try to make you an offer for summer support. Would that be helpful?

In this role-playing scenario, this is not true. According to the game rules, all candidates typically get summer support--but the candidate does not know this. The chair is using a "bogey" tactic--pretending he wants something that the candidate doesn't (in this case summer support). Then he concedes on it in exchange for something the candidate really does want (such as comensurable salary).

Candidate: That'd be great. Very helpful. I do think that starting out--as I get more established and get grants--as I'm starting out, support for one or two summers would be useful.

Candidate shows a positive reaction to perceived concession on summer support.

Chair: We could do two years of summer support which would be about $8000 for each summer. So that would pretty well make up what you could earn as a GS-13.

The bogey trade-off!

Candidate: That would be excellent.

A positive reaction.

Chair: Now we can talk about start-up.

Procedural suggestion to move things along.

Candidate: Right. I certainly came from a big lab and we had a lot of technicians and there may even be one that I want to bring with me. I really need to hire a couple lab assistants. We're really talking a lot of money here. You know, two or three people's salary plus buying equipment.

Candidate is making persuasive arguments.

Chair: Of course, that'll be coming from your grants later on. But, so two or three techs ... and equipment too?

Chair is clarifying the information and is questioning the request.

Candidate: I think equipment's going to be the bigger issue. These equipment can run a couple hundred thousand dollars and I don't know if you have ...

Candidate is providing more information about her priorities.

Chair: Yes, that would be difficult. But we could try. So start-up money. Typically the kinds of packages we provide to our faculty are on the order of $100,000.

Chair is making an offer on this issue.

Candidate: I do know that the piece of equipment that I need to use is actually $100,000 right there, and that's just one piece of equipment. I was really hoping for twice as much.

Candidate is making a counteroffer.

Chair: OK. What I'm going to do is make a note of your preferences here. Maybe we should talk a little bit about lab space and location.

The chair is processing the candidate's suggestion to avoid an impasse on an issue. This shows the chair is thinking about the package as a whole.

Candidate: I'll tell you now right upfront that the amount of space is more important to me than the location.

Again, more information on the candidate's priorities.

Candidate (cont.): Obviously I'd like to be in the building where everybody is. ... That'd be better for me in terms of collaborating with people. I really see my need--especially since you're going to give me a lot of start-up money to buy the equipment--I need a place to put it. I need the space, I don't want my technicians on top of each other.

Making persuasive arguments and stating preferences.

Chair: Yes. It's probably an issue as to where you'll have your office so that you still have contact with your colleagues.

An example of active listening. This shows that the chair is paying attention.

Candidate: Yes, it would be difficult to run backwards and forwards across campus, because the other places are so far away on the map. But you're right, if I have my office at least over here then I can ...

More persuasive arguments.

Chair: Well, I think you're correct in identifying this issue as a trade-off between the amount of space and location. And because the building we're in now is so popular, we're really strapped for space as you can imagine. Many of the more senior faculty have camped out here as it were, so ...

The chair is trying to identify a trade-off.

Candidate: And maybe it isn't so bad to have sort of two hats ... so that my students aren't bothering me in the lab ...

Positive reaction to suggestion.

Chair: Really our best location for that space is a building on the other side of campus. It's not ideal, but you would definitely have a much better chance of getting lots of space if you worked down there.

This is interesting: The chair is assuming that his best option for location is across campus and therefore not desirable for the candidate. He should have first asked for the candidate's preferences to test that assumption.

Candidate: If I worked there ... could I get the most amount of space available? 1100 square feet?

Making the trade-off!

Chair: Yes. That's correct.

Candidate: Could we do that?

Chair: Yes, let's do that right now. ... Seems like really the most optimal situation.

Note that the trade-off is vague--they haven't discussed the exact location. This could cause a problem later because they don't have a shared understanding of their agreement.

Chair (cont.): Alright, finally ... teaching and starting date. Teaching load.

Chair is processing a suggestion.

Chair (cont.): Obviously, one of the reasons we're interested in hiring you is because we need teachers. People to teach our courses. People are retiring and that has increased our need. Obviously we don't want you to teach too much or you won't be able to do research and get grants.

Chair is making persuasive arguments for both parties.

Chair (cont.): My position, personally, is to have an intermediate teaching load between the maximum and the minimum.

A compromise offer.

Chair (cont.): What are your thoughts about that?

Candidate: Well, maybe we should talk about this in terms of a starting date.

The candidate is trying to shift the issue.

Candidate (cont.): I would ... prefer to not start for another year and I do understand you have some teaching needs and I would be willing to start sooner if my teaching load was less.


Candidate (cont.): For example, if I started mid 2000-2001 and taught 10% to 20% of my time.

... and an issue offer.

Candidate (cont.): That way I could finish up my on-going work--really until September 2001, but I would be willing to come sooner if my teaching load wasn't too heavy.

This is a trade-off without knowledge of other party's preferences (note they both want the same for starting date).

Chair: I see. We have some flexibility. We have more flexibility in terms of when you start than in terms of how much you teach. Probably your minimal teaching load is going to be 30%. But late September 2001 we could do.

Chair is making a counteroffer. The chair probably realizes here that they both want September 2001 as the ideal starting date, but he is not revealing that to the candidate--another bogey trade-off! This is a classic "distributive" tactic.

Candidate: So September 2001 and teach 30% of the time?

Chair: Yes.

Candidate: Sounds reasonable.

A positive reaction.

Chair: So now we're back to the expenses part. If we had a package where we gave you $52,000 starting salary and then gave you two years of summer support that would approximate what you make as a GS-13. Of course, two summers after that you'll have to support yourself from grants. We can only offer partial cover for moving expenses. Perhaps 60%. Start-up money is also an issue. You requested ...

The chair is getting more creative and suggesting a multi-issue package.

Candidate: $200,000 to $250,000.

Chair: I don't think we can do $250,000 but $200,000 is a possibility. With the realization that you're coming from a big lab and used to the equipment ... we don't want you to hobble when trying to get off the ground.

Chair is taking the perspective of other party--a very "integrative" approach.

Chair (cont.): So maybe the final offer would be as I just mentioned plus start-up expenses of $200,000. I'll give you a few minutes to review that and see what you think.

An offer.

Candidate: I certainly think with the $52,000 and the summer support for two years really does equate to what I was thinking and I certainly would be very happy with those. I feel like ... I really would have liked the $250,000 start-up money. ... Is there any way?

The candidate has a positive reaction to the offer but is making a counteroffer.

Chair: I'm really sorry.

A negative reaction.

Candidate: Well how about could you increase the moving expenses at all?

Candidate is now asking for an offer.

Chair: Yes, unfortunately it's sort of a "relative" figure. We don't typically pay for moving expenses so it's more of a token. I was hoping the increase in salary would help with the moving expenses.

Vague negative response.

Candidate: OK, well. I think I could live with most of those.

Chair: I mean with that package ... I mean we could change the salary, obviously increase your moving expenses, but I don't know if you would really ... if that would be in your best interests.

Trade-off made.

Candidate: No, I like the salary, I like the summer support and they're clearly more important overall than moving expenses. And that is a sort of token. To compromise, forget the moving expenses, do you think there's another lab building closer?

Candidate's priorities taken into account when considering trade-off.

Chair: In terms of space ... that building is the best offer. Especially with the amount of space that you want. Now if you wanted to reduce the amount of space you needed, then that might be one way to get closer to the main building. But I don't think you want that.

Candidate: I would accept. So lab space we agreed on 1100 square feet? Two years summer support. Teaching load 30%. Start-up money, $200,000. Moving expenses, 60%. Lab location ... across the campus. Nine month's salary at $52,000 and starting date September 2001.

Chair: Exactly!

"Generally speaking, this is an effective negotiation," says Weingart. "There were examples of both integrative tactics (creating value and problem solving with specific trade-offs and information exchange) and distributive tactics (claiming value and using "bogey" trade-offs, persuasive arguments, and sharing some false information)." In the early stages of the negotiation, Weingart observes that the chair was "using more integrative tactics and the candidate was using more distributive tactics." As the negotiations progressed, she says the candidate shifted to a more integrative approach and the chair used more mixed integrative and distributive tactics.

"The problems I saw were that not enough information was exchanged before some offers were made, resulting in opportunities for bogey tactics (pretending you want something that you don't and then trading it off for something that you do want) and some compromises that might not have been necessary."

Consider these interactions and responses and use the issues raised to develop your own answers, strategies, and negotiation tactics.

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