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An exploration of whether engineers differ from non-engineers in their approach to negotiations

Barry Goldman (Department of Management and Organizations, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Dylan A. Cooper (Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, California, USA)
Cagatay Koc (Northern Trust, Tempe, Arizona, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 4 September 2019

467

Abstract

Purpose

In this investigation, the authors aim to ask whether engineers, as a profession, share distinct characteristics in their attitudes and behaviors relating to negotiations. Based on a review of the literature, the authors answer in the affirmative. Generally speaking, the existing studies on individual differences of engineers conclude that they are more conscientious, more goal-driven, more competitive and less people-oriented than non-engineers. The authors suggest that these differences have significant consequences on how engineers engage in negotiations. In particular, the authors propose that engineers’ approach to negotiation includes differences related to distributive versus integrative negotiation, emotional intelligence, perspective-taking and preferred persuasion techniques.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper involves an integrated literature review, combining research in management, psychology and engineering to investigate whether engineers approach negotiations differently from non-engineers.

Findings

The authors suggest that individual differences between engineers and non-engineers have significant consequences for how engineers engage in negotiations. In particular, the authors propose that engineers’ approach to negotiation includes differences related to distributive versus integrative negotiation, emotional intelligence, perspective-taking and preferred persuasion techniques.

Research limitations/implications

The authors offer 11 research propositions in areas relating to how engineers engage in distributive versus integrative negotiations, emotional intelligence, perspective-taking and their preferred persuasive techniques.

Practical implications

There are important implications for how engineers and their supervisors should be aware of these differences between how engineers and non-engineers view negotiations and how these differences may affect them and their employing organizations. There are also cultural implications, particularly for organizations for which engineers comprise a majority or a minority of the workforce composition.

Social implications

There are important implications for diversity in the engineering profession, especially as it relates to the hiring of women in engineering (as they now comprise a small minority of the profession).

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that investigates how engineers negotiate. Because engineering is a hugely important contributor to society, the results of this have important implications for the society.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge Ruby F. O’Brien-Metzger for inspiring this paper.

Citation

Goldman, B., Cooper, D.A. and Koc, C. (2019), "An exploration of whether engineers differ from non-engineers in their approach to negotiations", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 420-440. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-02-2019-0034

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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