Many types of negotiations occur in business settings. This example is indicative of the ethical dilemmas inherent in many negotiations.
Assume for a moment that you are the owner and CEO of a small machine and tool company. You have 35 employees, most of whom are highly skilled machinists who belong to a local union. Generally, you are an open manager with an abiding sense of fair play and ethics. For this reason, you have been able to attract workers who are skilled and committed to the company’s long-term success. In fact, labor relations are calm – even harmonious. For example, contract violations are usually handled between you and shop stewards in a problem-solving context with an almost complete absence of acrimony or contentiousness. Now, however, you face a serious and unprecedented issue. Due to an economic downturn, business activity has taken a sharp decline with the expectation that things will get much worse. You have just met with your accountant who has informed you there is no other choice but to lay off people or reduce wages. Your initial meeting with the union representatives shocked you into reality because it was filled with divisiveness, arguing, name-calling, and even occasional profanity. Things turn much worse in the second meeting because the union lawyers are present. After reading the article “Ethics in Negotiation: Oil and Water or Good Lubrication,” you are stunned to discover that the deceptive tactics outlined in the article read like a primer for what the union is doing. Answer the following questions based on the case and the article:
- What type of conflict is occurring in this case, and what conflict management style would you, as the manager use? Justify your choice.
- What are the challenges to effective communication in this case and how can these challenges be mitigated?
- How would evidence-based decision making help in resolving this case?