Another barrier to effective negotiations from Bazerman and Neale
Most negotiations involve two parties with conflicting goals.
Picture a company that is reasonably successful in its market at the current time. Consequently, it is profitable.
Now consider the workers who believe that they should have a larger share of that profit.
Traditional collective bargaining (unions) will survey their membership to create a list of priorities for negotiations. Then they will put together a list of "demands" and present them to management.
Since it is generally believed that all negotiations end up somewhere in-the-middle, the increase in wages, for instance, is doubled or tripled before being published as a "demand".
Let's say a union shop is making $20 an hour. Furthermore, suppose the membership looks at the recent rate-of-inflation and determine that they want increases of 10% a year for the life of the contract (nominally three years). And while the want 10% most of them would settle for 7%.
From Management's perspective, while they would be more profitable if they gave NO wage increases, they are mature enough to realize that they will have excessive employee turnover. That turnover is expensive from both a recruiting, training and quality standpoint.
So Management is reconciled to the fact that they will have to make SOME wage concessions. Perhaps even 10% a year.
To beat a dead horse, the members of the union want 10%, expect 7% but will grudgingly settle for 5%. Management realizes they have to make some concessions and would accept 10% if linked with other efficiency gains.
No problem, right? There is 5% of overlap between the minimum the union will settle for and what Management can afford.
What really happens
Since the union bargainers believe that you never get all of what you ask for, they "demand" is that the company commit to raises of 30% the first year (to make up for inflation not comprehended in the years covered by the previous contract), 20% the second year and 10% the third year. That is an average increase of 20% a year or exactly twice as much as the union's true target.
The fatal flaw is that the union invariably PUBLISHES their demands. By making the information public knowledge, they set themselves up into a win-lose scenario.
Any potential gains from gaining public support are vastly outweighed by the fact that the potential for public loss-of-face causes negotiators to entrench and to not consider alternative positions. The negotiations lock-up.
A negotiation that had the potential for smooth and harmonious interactions becomes toxic and riddle with acrimony and rancor.