Aldis Sigurdardottir, who was seconded at i3D in Gliwice and Stormsalen in Horsens as part of the Reinvent project, has successfully defended her PhD thesis at Reykjavik University. Her thesis is entitled “Tactics in B2B Negotiations in SMEs”. Her empirical work is in part based on data collected as part of the Reinvent project.
Aldis Sigurdardottir, at the center of the photo, along with her Thesis Committee and External Examiners.
This thesis deals with negotiation tactics in business-to-business (B2B) settings. The term negotiation tactics refers to negotiator behavior, both verbal and non-verbal, throughout the negotiation process. The aim of this thesis is to examine the negotiation tactics used in actual, real-life B2B settings, and to explore what drives and influences negotiation behavior. The term negotiation tactics is well established in the negotiation literature, but the study of negotiation tactics has mainly focused on distinguishing among different types of tactics (e.g. ethical vs. non-ethical, aggressive vs. non-aggressive, competitive vs. cooperative). Actual, real-life use of negotiation tactics in B2B negotiations has been less studied. Because of the scarcity of research in this area, a research strategy combining qualitative and quantitative research methods was adopted for this project, which is built around three academic papers. Empirical data were collected from B2B small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in four European countries: Iceland, Poland, Denmark, and Germany. The subject material is viewed through various theoretical lenses, including Social Network Theory, B2B Marketing Theory, Expectancy Theory, Principal-Agent Theory, and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. This thesis summarizes the papers’ main findings and resulting contributions to theory and practice. The findings of the first paper, which focuses on B2B negotiations in creative sectors and employs a case research methodology, indicate that negotiators in creative sectors use negotiation tactics whose underlying aim is to prioritize negotiators’ ability to create rather than securing economic gain. A category of negotiation tactics not anticipated by the existing literature—referred to as closure seeking tactics—was identified in the creative sector firms study. The findings of the second paper, which are based on observations of live, real-time negotiations, indicate that there are differences between buyers’ and sellers’ uses of negotiation tactics and that usage varies depending on a negotiator’s selected negotiation strategy. The findings further indicate that variable pay influences the negotiation behavior of both buyers and sellers and is associated with the use of competitive negotiation strategies, including distributive negotiation tactics, which could jeopardize firms’ long-term business relationships. Finally, the findings of the third paper, which reports on quantitative survey-based research, suggest that the use of integrative negotiation tactics is positively related to market performance and that this relationship is strengthened when combined with the use of distributive negotiation tactics. Based on a comparison between data collected in a risk-averse culture (Poland) and a risk-taking culture (Denmark), the findings indicate that in the risk-taking culture the use of integrative negotiation tactics is not related to market performance and the use of distributive negotiation tactics is negatively related to market performance. In the risk-averse culture, the use of both integrative and distributive tactics is positively related to market performance. Together, these findings suggest that in a culture where integrative negotiation tactics are expected, their use might not constitute a competitive advantage, which could explain the lack of a statistically significant relationship with market performance. Meanwhile, in a culture where distributive negotiation tactics might be the norm, the use of integrative tactics might constitute a competitive advantage. Overall, the findings of this research confirm the importance of better understanding negotiation tactics in B2B settings.