Professor Salacuse Examines "The Hidden Persuader: The Role of the Advisor in Negotiations and Group Decision Making—Perspectives from the European Union"
Published by Group Decision and Negotiation
Date: May 2, 2016
Theoretical models of negotiation and group decision making often overlook or at least do not fully account for the important role played by persons who advise negotiators and participants in group decision making. Sight unseen, advisors are often “hidden persuaders,” important but unrecognized sources of influence on the negotiation dynamic. This article explores the roles and methods of advisors in the negotiation process, drawing on survey research conducted in 2013 among approximately seventy advisors at the European Union Council of Ministers. Defining advice as “……a communication from one person (the advisor) to another (the client) for the purpose of helping that second person determine a course of action for solving a particular problem……”, the author considers the nature of advice and the range of relationships that may exist between advisors and their clients. He argues that advising is much more than the mere transmittal of information from advisor to negotiator and that for advice to be effective a relationship must exist between the two parties. The author identifies three models of the advisor–negotiator relationship. Model I is the advisor as director, wherein the advisor tends to take control of the negotiating process, directing the negotiator in actions that the negotiator should take to achieve success at the negotiation. Model II is the advisor as servant in which the advisor merely responds to the demands of the client for help and guidance in the negotiation. Model III is the advisor as partner, wherein advisor and negotiator jointly manage the advising process and together take co-ownership of the problem to be solved. The author then explores the factors that lead advisors and negotiators to adopt each of these three models, the various advising styles that advisors adopt, and the differing effects on the negotiation process that these elements may have, drawing on historical examples as well as survey data from the EU Council of Ministers. He concludes by offering advice about advising to three important professional groups—scholars, negotiators, and advisors—on ways to carry out their respective functions more effectively.