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Can loyal party members be flexible negotiators? Impacts of constituent support, term limits and bipartisan roles

Daniel Druckman (Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, USA; Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Jennifer Parlamis (School of Management, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)
Zachary C. Burns (School of Management, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 30 June 2022

Issue publication date: 26 September 2022

207

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to conduct two experiments to provide insight into the impacts of Congressional party loyalty on negotiating flexibility. Constituent support, term limits and bipartisan roles were explored as possible moderators of polarization in American political negotiations.

Design/methodology/approach

Experiment 1 used a 2 (party loyalty: loyal/thoughtful) × 2 (constituent support: consistent/mixed districts) experimental design. In experiment 2, party loyalty was constant, and participants were assigned to one of four conditions created by a 2 (term limits: restricted/not restricted) × 2 (role: coordinator/whip) design. In both experiments, flexibility was measured as the percentage of movement on four key budget allocation issues. Participants were recruited using Prolific.

Findings

Experiment 1 demonstrated that loyalty produced less flexibility, particularly with regard to one’s own preferred issues. Constituent support did not influence flexibility. The second experiment found that absence of term limits and presence of bipartisan roles resulted in more movement on the other’s preferred issues.

Research limitations/implications

While the authors’ manipulations have experimental validity, further field research is suggested to assess the fidelity of the authors’ simulation and the ecological validity of the experimental findings.

Practical implications

These findings extend the list of situational levers that impact negotiation flexibility. In particular, based on the authors’ findings, embedding bipartisan roles into traditional Congressional processes could help increase negotiating flexibility and cooperation.

Originality/value

Both the experimental task and variables manipulated in these experiments are embedded in a US Congressional context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors owe a large debt of gratitude to James N. Druckman for his many useful suggestions and insights about the study design, analyses and interpretations of the results.

Data availability: The data (.xlsx) and survey (.qsf) files can be accessed at the following anonymized link: https://osf.io/zx5kv/?view_only=2f72f25f6f884156b2c1093783e39dfe

Citation

Druckman, D., Parlamis, J. and Burns, Z.C. (2022), "Can loyal party members be flexible negotiators? Impacts of constituent support, term limits and bipartisan roles", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 741-761. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-01-2022-0011

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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