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Promoting Honesty in Negotiation: An Exercise in Practical Ethics

Peter Cramton () and J. Gregory Dees

Papers of Peter Cramton from University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton

Abstract: In a competitive and morally imperfect world, business people are often faced with serious ethical challenges. Harboring suspicions about the ethics of others, many feel justified in engaging in less-than-ideal conduct to protect their own interests. The most sophisticated moral arguments are unlikely to counteract this behavior. We believe that this morally defensive behavior is responsible, in large part, for much undesirable deception in negotiation. Drawing on recent work in the literature of negotiations, we present some practical guidance on how negotiators might build trust, establish common interests, and secure credibility for their statements thereby promoting honesty We also point out the types of social and institutional arrangements, many of which have become commonplace, that work to promote credibility, trust, and honesty in business dealings. Our approach is offered not only as a specific response to the problem of deception in negotiation, but as one model of how research in business ethics might offer constructive advice to practitioners.

Keywords: Credibility; Business Ethics; Negotiations; Institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D82 M29 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 pages
Date: 1998-06-09, Revised 1998-06-09
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Published in Business Ethics Quarterly, 3:4, October 1993, pages 359-394. Reprinted in Patricia Werhane and Tom Donaldson, eds., Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996 (Fifth Edition) and 1999 (Sixth Edition), and Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler, eds., What's Fair, John Wiley & Sons, 2004.

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