The Practice of Preparation for Complex Negotiations

Morten Lindholst, Anne Marie Bülow*, Ray Fells

*Corresponding author for this work

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Negotiators are routinely exhorted to prepare well, but what do they do in practice? This article draws on data collected as a team of negotiators prepared their strategy during the lengthy negotiations over a major power generation infrastructure contract. Using a framework that we developed using terms from the literature, the team’s preparation meetings were observed and then analysed for content, timing and changes in participation.
It is shown that the standard checklist notion of preparation needs to be reconsidered as a multilevel, dynamic concept that changes in character over time. Far from just a first stage, the team’s continued preparation occurred in feedback meetings after rounds of negotiation at the table, between negotiation sessions and immediately before the next round of negotiations, and progress was seen to hinge on the differentiation of the preparation. Consequently, this long-term study provides insight into a key element of any general theory of negotiation while also suggesting implications for practitioners working with negotiating teams.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 21. February 2020.


  • Preparation process
  • Business-to-business negotiation
  • negotiating team
  • negotiating case study

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