To read this content please select one of the options below:

Effects of power on negotiations: a comparison of collaborative versus competitive approach

Kyriaki Fousiani (Department of Organizational Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Wolfgang Steinel (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
Pieter A. Minnigh (Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 16 August 2020

Issue publication date: 6 April 2021




The purpose of this study is to examine two opposing approaches to the effects of power on negotiation: a “collaborative approach” of power and a “competitive approach” of power. Accordingly, the authors state oppositional hypotheses based on each approach. This study further investigates the mediating role of the perceived threat of the negotiation and the moderating role of negotiation topic (i.e. topics that touch on one’s power position versus topics that are related to the tasks one needs to perform) in this relationship. Finally, the authors state a moderated mediation hypothesis where they expected that the negotiation topic would moderate the indirect effect of power on negotiation strategies.


A vignette study (N = 279) and a negotiation game (N = 138) were conducted where the power within dyads was manipulated.


Study 1 showed that powerholders prefer collaborative strategies, whereas powerless negotiators prefer competitive strategies. Perceived threat of the negotiation mediated this effect. Furthermore, both Studies 1 and 2 showed that the negotiation topic moderates the effect of power on negotiation strategies providing further support for the collaborative approach of power. Finally, Study 1 provided partial support for the moderated mediation hypothesis.

Research limitations/implications

Both Studies 1 and 2 are experimental studies. A field study should try to replicate these results in the future.

Practical implications

This study illuminates the effects of power on negotiation and addresses inconsistent findings in the negotiation literature. The results might be of great importance to large organizations where power asymmetries constitute an integral part of the employee/manager interactions.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to show the moderating role of negotiation topic in the relationship between power and negotiation.



Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with Ethical Standards: This research involves human participants. All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Data availability statement: Data and Online Supplemental Materials are available from the Open Science Framework at

The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very useful comments on previous versions of the manuscript.


Fousiani, K., Steinel, W. and Minnigh, P.A. (2021), "Effects of power on negotiations: a comparison of collaborative versus competitive approach", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 223-249.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles