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Maria Koutsovoulou's experimental study showed that their social motives have a significant effect.

Maria Koutsovoulou wrote the attached policy paper for the Industrial Relations and Firms’ Competitiveness Chair after an experimental study showed that negotiators’ motivation have a significant effect on the quality of labour talks, which have become increasingly important.

 “Understanding the factors that determine the process and results of labour negotiations is very important for the performance of organizations. This need has recently become stronger because of the issues that organizations face today”, sums up Maria Koutsovoulou, an Associate professor in Negotiation and Organizational Behavior at ESCP Europe and the scientific director of the Industrial Relations and Firms’ Competitiveness Chair. She claims that they operate in complex situations involving major transformations imposed by globalization, digital technology and the rise of artificial intelligence, as well as by the individualization of the relationships between unions and employers. “In this context, labour negotiation can play a major role by becoming the means of federating all the different elements of the organization to contribute to these transformations.”

She explains that the legal aspect of labour negotiations has for a long time been dominant, particularly in France, but that this approach has also acted as a brake on taking into consideration various other approaches that can teach us a lot about the process and the behavioral practices that will best facilitate labour negotiators. One of them is the psychosocial approach, which is “widespread in North America where the culture of labour negotiation is not limited to the search for a compromise but includes the behavioral dimension of the negotiation (bargaining), opens new perspectives towards understanding the conduct of this kind of social interaction”.

This is why she carried out an experimental study whose objective is to explore the psychosocial processes operating in labour negotiators, particularly the role of three important social psychological variables on the quality of negotiated agreement with a specific focus on the effects of negotiators’ social motives. 160 of ESCP Europe’s graduate level (Master in Management) or senior business (Executive MBA) students participated in a simulation of a bilateral labour negotiation which shows that the results of labour negotiations can vary in accordance with the negotiator’s subjective perceptions and motivations. “It thus becomes essential for workers’ and employers’ representatives to understand these subjective factors in order to better comprehend and conduct the negotiations in which they are involved”, she concludes.