Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 3-20

First online:

Perceived Relative Power and its Influence on Negotiations

  • Rebecca J. WolfeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Princeton University
  • , Kathleen L. McginnAffiliated withGraduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University

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In an experimental study, we investigate perceived relative power in negotiations and its effect on the distribution of resources and the integrativeness of agreements. We contrast perceived relative power with the objective individual level measure of power often used in past research: the parties’ alternatives to a negotiated agreement. We found that alternatives affected the distribution of outcomes, while perceived relative power and alternatives affected the integrativeness of outcomes. We found that negotiating pairs who perceived a smaller difference in relative power reached agreements of greater integrativeness than pairs who perceived a greater power difference, even after controlling for alternatives and aspirations. We explore the implications of treating power in negotiations as a perceived and relational construct.


alternatives aspirations negotiation perceptions power