Many people hesitate to present a negotiation offer as a range of values, assuming that co-negotiators will anchor on the lower value in the range as a “reservation price.”
This is based on the powerful of first offers as negotiation anchors, such as in research by University of Chicago’s Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell.
Range offers actually led to stronger outcomes in controlled studies by Columbia University’s Daniel R. Ames and Malia F. Mason because they offer “dual anchors” that signal a negotiator’s knowledge of value as well as politeness.
In addition, negotiator credibility, interpersonal style and knowledge of value increase anchor potency to influrnece settlement outcomes.
Range and point opening offers have varying impacts, depending on perceived the proposer’s preparation, credibility, politeness, and reasonableness.
Ames and Mason tested three types of negotiation proposal ranges:
- Bolstering range, which includes the target point value as the bottom of the range and an aspirational value as the top of the range.
This strategy usually yields generous counteroffers and higher settlement prices, and is a recommended approach.
- Backdown range, which features the target point value as the upper end of the range and a concession value as the lower offer.
This approach often leads to accepting the lower value and is generally not recommended.
- Bracketing range, which spans the target point offer and tends to have neutral settlement outcomes for the offer-maker.
Compared with point offers, bracketing range offers provided some relational benefits because they were seen as less aggressive.
Extreme anchors can be seen as offensive, and may lead to negotiation breakdown, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg with Gillian Ku of London Business School, collaborating with Cynthia S. Wang of University of Michigan, and National University of Singapore’s Madan M. Pillutla.
In fact, negotiators with little power in their studies were more likely to walk away from extreme anchors and high-power negotiators were equally offended by extreme anchors.
Previously, Mason and team showed the benefit of precise single number offers, and the current research shows the value of range offers.
Mason and team argued that point offers and range offers are independent and interactive informational processes with influence on settlement values:
“…bolstering-range offers shape the perceived location of the offer-maker’s reservation price, (and) precise first offers shape the perceived credibility of the offer-maker’s price proposal.
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