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Extremely difficult negotiator goals: Do they follow the predictions of goal-setting theory?


  • Miles, Edward W.
  • Clenney, Elizabeth F.


Traditional goal-setting theory has been applied extensively in negotiation research. We examine one of the major tenets of the theory that has yet to be tested in the negotiation context, the argument that goals that are challenging yet attainable result in optimal performance. Specifically, we test whether goals set substantially beyond challenging yet attainable result in either plateaued or decreased objective negotiation outcomes. Across two studies, our results indicate that goals that are extremely difficult, beyond the challenging yet attainable level set forth in goal-setting theory, produce greater negotiated outcomes. We propose that this effect occurs because of the counter-intuitive notion that negotiators possessing insufficient information have a key advantage over well-informed negotiators.

Suggested Citation

  • Miles, Edward W. & Clenney, Elizabeth F., 2012. "Extremely difficult negotiator goals: Do they follow the predictions of goal-setting theory?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 108-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:118:y:2012:i:2:p:108-115
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.02.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pinkley, Robin L. & Neale, Margaret A. & Bennett, Rebecca J., 1994. "The Impact of Alternatives to Settlement in Dyadic Negotiation," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 97-116, January.
    2. Curhan, Jared R. & Neale, Margaret A. & Ross, Lee & Rosencranz-Engelmann, Jesse, 2008. "Relational accommodation in negotiation: Effects of egalitarianism and gender on economic efficiency and relational capital," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 192-205, November.
    3. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    4. Van Poucke, Dirk & Buelens, Marc, 2002. "Predicting the outcome of a two-party price negotiation: Contribution of reservation price, aspiration price and opening offer," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 67-76, February.
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