On this page we compile suggested solutions to resolve impasses, both in empirical research and in practitioner outlets. We hope this database can provide an overview for both scholars and practitioners of impasse resolutions.

Do you have an idea for a solution or have we missed something? You can submit another impasse resolution here and we’ll include it in the table. 

Methodological factor Sample references Challenge Proposed solutions
Psychological (Brett et al., 1996; Maddux et al., 2008) Demand effects from authority figures Actively communicate that “not reaching a deal can also be a good outcome”.
Demand effects from social pressure Tell students in advance that “your negotiation results will only be displayed anonymously”. This allows for interactive discussions without putting social pressure on students to reach an agreement.
Instructional (Brett & Okumura, 2006; Elfenbein, Eisenkraft, Curhan & DiLalla, 2018; Harinck & De Dreu, 2004) Instructions tell participants to “negotiate until you reach an agreement”. Instruct participants to negotiate “until you reach an agreement or until you decide that you do not want to reach an agreement in the current negotiation.”
Instructions tell participants to reach an agreement “until a certain deadline”. Adjust instructions to tell participants that “you have [insert deadline information here] to either reach an agreement or to decide that you do not want to reach an agreement in the current negotiation.”
Instructions contain many more instructions indicative of agreements than of impasses. Consider including more instructions indicating that not reaching an agreement is also an option.
Instructions contain sample agreement forms and results sheet that assume agreement. Adjust instructions so they are more balanced in their indications of agreements or impasses. Ensure that results sheet do not only assume agreement. Consider adding a sentence to say that “You can also decide not to reach an agreement in the current negotiation”.
Structural (Greenhalgh, 1993; Neale, 1997) Unusually wide bargaining zones Adjust bargaining zones to align them with bargaining zones in real world situations. If this is not desirable for pedagogical reasons, mention in debrief that bargaining zones may be narrower in real life negotiations.

See below for more potential solutions. Note: the preview below requires you to scroll around a lot. We recommend you access the database here in a new tab.


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