Social Justice Research

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 241–262 | Cite as

Fairness in Bargaining

  • Madan M. PillutlaEmail author
  • J. Keith Murnighan


This paper uses historical and contemporary philosophical discussions of fairness to present a structural approach to the definition of fairness. After establishing a set of standards (not a specific definition), we assess the impact of fairness in negotiations and bargaining. Our analysis concludes that truly fair behavior is absent in bargaining and negotiations. Instead, behaviors that have been called just can also be characterized as self-interested. Our review suggests that the term fairness has been used rather loosely, as a convenient label or as a more palatable alternative to self-interested explanations for an individual's choices. For reasons of both parsimony and accuracy, we recommend that the self-interest of the actors be carefully considered before calling their bargaining behavior fair.

fairness self-interest ultimate negotiations 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London Business SchoolLondon
  2. 2.Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanston

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