The role of face in the decision not to negotiate

Edward W. Miles (Department of Managerial Sciences, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Publication date: 5 October 2010



Implicitly, the negotiation literature has generally assumed that, if economic gains are sufficient, individuals will negotiate. However, recent research has begun to consider the social costs incurred by negotiating. This paper aims to develop a conceptual model of the role of one of those social costs – threat to face – in the decision of whether to negotiate or not to negotiate.


The approach was to combine relevant literature from face theory and from negotiation to develop and support a model of the role of face in the decision to negotiate or not to negotiate.


A model was developed which proposed that, if people believe that negotiating will result in a loss of face, they are less likely to negotiate in situations that they recognize are potentially negotiable. Six variables are proposed to be antecedents to the belief that negotiating could result in loss of face. These six are divided into categories of social context (social roles and status), individual differences (face threat sensitivity and negotiation self‐efficacy), and knowledge (knowledge of negotiation scripts and knowledge of negotiation content).


The question of why some people do not negotiate when the potential for economic gains would suggest that they should negotiate has received very little attention in the negotiation literature. This model provides one theoretical approach for exploring this phenomenon.



Miles, E. (2010), "The role of face in the decision not to negotiate", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 400-414.

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