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This article is written by Jaya Sharma of Dr. B.R Ambedkar National Law University, Sonipat, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


Negotiation is a critical component of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), comprising a wide range of theories, developmental pathways, and varied kinds. This abstract delves into the complex world of ADR negotiation, shedding light on key theoretical frameworks such as distributive and integrative negotiation, emphasising the evolution of negotiation strategies over time, and classifying negotiation types such as positional, interest-based, and principled negotiations. This investigation contributes to a comprehensive understanding of negotiation’s role in resolving conflicts by illuminating the dynamic interplay of these factors, providing useful insights for practitioners, scholars, and stakeholders in the field of ADR.


Negotiation, Theories, Development, Types, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Distributive Negotiation, Integrative Negotiation, Positional Negotiation, Interest-Based Negotiation, Principled Negotiation.


Negotiation is a beacon of hope in the challenging landscape of conflict resolution, providing a method to amicably and quickly resolving issues. Negotiation is central to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and it is characterised by an extensive array of theories, developmental nuances, and varied forms. Conflict is an inherent facet of human contact, affecting both the personal and professional realms. When disagreements develop, the desire for settlement becomes critical, and this is when negotiation comes into play. Negotiation, often regarded as a non-binding procedure, involves direct discussions between parties aimed at reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to a dispute, without any external third-party involvement. This process inherently revolves around the management of interpersonal relationships and is a fundamental human endeavour. Negotiation is not confined to formal settings; rather, it is an integral part of our daily interactions, reflecting our social nature as humans. As social beings, we constantly engage in negotiation, underscoring its pivotal role in our everyday lives. Negotiation, as opposed to combative litigation, which frequently exacerbates tensions and stresses relationships, aims to establish common ground, enabling collaboration and compromise. Negotiation in the context of ADR is a comprehensive notion that includes theories, developmental trajectories, and many forms. To successfully traverse this complex landscape, it is critical to comprehend the theoretical underpinnings that drive negotiators, appreciate how negotiation methods have changed over time, and differentiate between the numerous types of negotiations that can be used in various contexts.


Firstly, we aim to demystify the concept of negotiation within Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Then we will delve into the essentials of negotiation .

We will break down the theories behind negotiation, its historical development, and the different types of negotiations that exist. By doing so, we intend to provide a clear and accessible understanding of what negotiation means and how it operates in resolving disputes.


Negotiation can be described as a constructive dialogue among individuals aimed at finding mutually agreeable solutions. This process involves people coming together to discuss their differences, carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of potential resolutions, and ultimately striving to reach an outcome that benefits everyone involved.

Key elements of negotiation include:

  1. Communication: Negotiation hinges on effective communication, where parties exchange ideas, concerns, and proposals.
  2. Conflict Resolution: It serves as a means to resolve conflicts and disputes in a collaborative manner, rather than resorting to confrontation or hostility.
  3. Voluntary Participation: Negotiation is a voluntary exercise, with individuals choosing to engage in the process willingly.
  4. Retained Control: Parties in negotiation maintain control over both the final outcome and the procedure itself, allowing them to shape the solution.
  5. Non-binding: Typically, negotiation results are not legally binding, providing flexibility for adjustments or revisions if necessary.
  6. Potential for Diverse Solutions: Negotiation offers the potential for a wide range of solutions, fostering the opportunity to maximize collective benefits and meet the interests of all parties involved.


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) encompasses various methods of resolving conflicts outside the traditional court system. Negotiation is one of the primary ADR methods, and it can take several forms. Here, we’ll delve into the types of negotiation in ADR with detailed explanations:


Distributive negotiations, often referred to as hard or situational bargaining, revolve around the allocation of fixed benefits. These negotiations are essentially zero-sum games, where any gain by one party comes at the expense of the other, resulting in a win-lose dynamic. In distributive negotiations, the primary objective is for each negotiator to secure the largest possible share of the finite resources, which leads the parties to adopt more competitive and adversarial positions against each other. For instance, picture a negotiation table as the stage, with two skilled performers stepping onto it, each representing their interests. In this scenario, imagine a company seeking to purchase a rare piece of artwork from an artist. The company starts with a budget, while the artist has a desired selling price in mind. As they engage in distributive negotiation, it’s akin to a tug-of-war over the price. The company may employ tactics like making a low initial offer or emphasizing their budget constraints, while the artist counters by highlighting the artwork’s uniqueness and market value. Back and forth they go, pulling the price closer to their respective goals. The negotiation resembles a finely balanced seesaw, with each party striving to gain the upper hand while recognizing the need for compromise. Ultimately, if they find common ground, they can strike a deal where the company acquires the artwork at a price acceptable to both, demonstrating the effectiveness of distributive negotiation in achieving mutually agreeable outcomes within the realm of ADR.


Integrated negotiation, also known as interest-based or principled negotiation, represents a strategic toolkit designed to elevate the caliber of interactions by leveraging the inherent reality that different parties often place distinct values on various outcomes.

While conventional negotiation models often presume a fixed, finite pie of value to be divided among participants, integrated negotiation sets out to transcend this limitation. Instead of merely slicing the pie to compensate for one side’s gain over the other, it seeks to “expand the pie.” This expansion can be achieved through a variety of means, including making calculated “trade-offs” or practicing “logrolling,” where each party concedes on certain issues in exchange for concessions on others. In essence, it’s a dynamic exchange, like bartering at a bustling marketplace, where parties exchange items to their mutual satisfaction.

Furthermore, integrated negotiation seeks to inject a dose of creativity and innovation into the process. It endeavors to “create” or “redefine” issues in contention in a way that benefits all involved, fostering what is often referred to as “win-win” negotiations. Picture it as a group of skilled architects, each with unique blueprints, collaborating to design a magnificent building that incorporates elements from each design, resulting in an architectural marvel that none could have created alone. In essence, integrated negotiation is a nuanced art form, where negotiators act as craftsmen, shaping the negotiation landscape to discover untapped value and produce outcomes that exceed the sum of their parts. It’s a strategic dance where parties harmonize their interests and needs, orchestrating a symphony of cooperation and mutual benefit.

3.MULTIPARTY NEGOTIATION: Multiparty negotiation within Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) unfolds as a complex interplay among multiple parties, each pursuing their unique interests and objectives. These negotiations often involve intricate dynamics, with each party advocating for its share of the proverbial pie. Whether it’s resolving a complex business dispute involving multiple companies or addressing community concerns in an environmental dispute, multiparty ADR necessitates skillful mediation and facilitation. The process resembles orchestrating a symphony, where the mediator plays the conductor, harmonizing the voices of all parties to achieve a harmonious resolution that not only satisfies individual needs but also promotes collaboration and consensus among the group, making multiparty negotiation a cornerstone of conflict resolution in ADR.

4. TEAM NEGOTATION: Team negotiation in the context of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) involves negotiations between two or more teams, often representing distinct interests, seeking to collaboratively address complex issues. It’s like a strategic chess match where teams from different organizations or stakeholders come together to find common ground, share information, and jointly craft innovative solutions. In ADR team negotiations, the emphasis is on fostering cooperation, leveraging collective expertise, and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes, making it a powerful approach for resolving intricate disputes and reaching comprehensive agreements.


The development of negotiation within Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has been a pivotal and dynamic process, shaped by a variety of factors and influenced by legal precedents and changing societal needs. Over the years, negotiation in ADR has evolved significantly, with several key milestones and shifts in focus. One notable legislative development is the enactment of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996[1], which provided a comprehensive framework for the resolution of disputes through negotiation and other ADR mechanisms. This statute aligns with international standards and promotes the use of negotiation and conciliation to settle disputes in India. 

One notable development is the increasing recognition of negotiation as a cornerstone of ADR, emphasized in various legal systems and international treaties. For instance, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has established model laws and rules promoting the use of negotiation in resolving cross-border disputes, underlining its importance in global commerce. [2]

Indian courts have played a pivotal role in shaping the development of negotiation in ADR. Judicial decisions have emphasized the importance of negotiation and other non-adversarial methods for dispute resolution. The Supreme Court of India’s landmark judgment in the case of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. v. Cherian Varkey Construction Co. (P) Ltd. (2010),[3] for instance, emphasized the significance of mediation in ADR and encouraged parties to engage in good faith negotiations with the assistance of a mediation. Furthermore, the Indian legal system has witnessed the growth of negotiation as a favored approach in resolving a wide range of disputes, including commercial, family, and labor matters. Parties have increasingly recognized the efficiency and flexibility of negotiation in achieving mutually acceptable outcomes. This trend has been particularly evident in family courts, where negotiation and collaborative law principles have been employed to facilitate amicable settlements in matrimonial disputes, as seen in Narendra Kumar J. Jain v. Indrani Jai Singh (2012)[4].

India has seen the emergence of various ADR institutions, such as the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), the Indian Institute of Arbitration and Mediation (IIAM), and others. These institutions provide infrastructure and support for effective negotiation processes. India is positioning itself as a preferred destination for international arbitration, hosting institutions like the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which further emphasize the importance of negotiation and ADR.

In conclusion, negotiation as an integral part of ADR in India has evolved significantly over the years, with legislative reforms, judicial guidance, and a growing recognition of its effectiveness in achieving fair and expeditious dispute resolution.  



Distributive bargaining theory, a fundamental concept in the realm of negotiation, centers around the idea of a “fixed pie” where one party’s gain is perceived as directly offsetting the other party’s loss. In essence, it’s the classic scenario of dividing a limited resource, and it’s often referred to as “win-lose” negotiation. Let’s delve into this theory with a fresh perspective.Imagine two entrepreneurs, Alex and Mia, who have discovered a vintage sports car they both covet. The car is unique, and there’s only one available for purchase. As they engage in distributive bargaining, they recognize that they have conflicting interests. Alex, aware of Mia’s passion for the car, realizes he can exploit her desire to secure a better deal for himself.

In the negotiation, Alex starts with a lowball offer, intending to acquire the car at a significant discount. He emphasizes his own financial constraints and need for a good deal. Mia, who has been dreaming of owning this car for years, initially resists, valuing the car highly and unwilling to part with it for less than what she believes it’s worth.

The negotiation unfolds like a tug-of-war. Each concession Mia makes feels like a loss, and each gain for Alex feels like an advantage. It’s a classic distributive bargaining scenario, where every dollar less paid by Alex equates to a dollar more lost by Mia. However, a pivotal moment arises in the negotiation when Mia reveals her need for quick cash to cover an unexpected medical expense. Alex, who genuinely empathizes with Mia’s situation, recognizes an opportunity to reach a more favorable agreement for both parties. He adjusts his offer, increasing the price slightly but still below market value. In return, he requests a flexible payment plan to alleviate Mia’s immediate financial burden.

This shift in the negotiation dynamic exemplifies the nuanced nature of distributive bargaining. While it initially appeared as a zero-sum game, where one’s gain equated to the other’s loss, the introduction of additional information and understanding allowed the parties to move towards a win-win outcome. In the end, both Alex and Mia secured a deal that met their needs – Alex acquired the coveted car at a reasonable price, and Mia received the financial relief she urgently required. Distributive bargaining, often seen as a rigid and competitive negotiation approach, can indeed evolve into a more collaborative and mutually beneficial process when parties are open to understanding each other’s underlying interests and needs. This transformation showcases the dynamic and adaptable nature of negotiation theory in practice.


Integrative bargaining, a foundational concept within Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is a negotiation theory that stands in stark contrast to the win-lose approach of distributive bargaining. Instead of viewing the negotiation table as a battlefield for dividing a fixed pie, integrative bargaining seeks to enlarge the pie, creating opportunities for all parties to achieve their objectives collaboratively and achieve mutual gains.[5]


Consider a hypothetical case involving a commercial lease negotiation between a landlord, Mr. Smith, and a small business owner, Ms. Patel. Ms. Patel runs a thriving café and wants to expand her business by leasing an adjoining space in Mr. Smith’s building. In a distributive bargaining scenario, Ms. Patel might approach the negotiation with a sole focus on minimizing rent expenses, while Mr. Smith aims to maximize rental income.

However, by adopting integrative bargaining principles, both parties explore creative solutions to maximize the value of their collaboration.[6] During their negotiation, they identify shared interests, including:

  1. Long-Term Stability: Mr. Smith values a stable tenant who will maintain the property and make timely payments, while Ms. Patel values a consistent location for her café.
  2. Business Growth: Ms. Patel seeks space for her café’s expansion, which can result in increased revenue for her and higher rental income for Mr. Smith.
  3. Shared Maintenance: They both prefer a shared responsibility for property maintenance and repairs, reducing the burden on Mr. Smith.

Armed with this understanding of their common interests, they collaboratively craft a lease agreement that reflects these mutual objectives.  The agreement includes provisions for a reasonable rent increase linked to Ms. Patel’s café’s revenue growth, shared maintenance costs, and a long-term lease to provide stability for both parties.

Through integrative bargaining, Mr. Smith and Ms. Patel not only find a win-win solution but also forge a constructive and mutually beneficial business relationship. This approach illustrates how integrative bargaining theory can transform a potentially contentious negotiation into a collaborative and value-creating endeavor.

Integrative bargaining theory in ADR serves as a powerful tool for fostering cooperation, generating innovative solutions, and achieving outcomes where all parties leave the negotiation table with more than they initially envisioned. It underscores the importance of focusing on interests rather than positions, ultimately leading to more satisfying and sustainable resolutions.


Principled negotiation theory, also known as interest-based negotiation, is a highly regarded approach within Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that places emphasis on identifying and addressing underlying interests and needs rather than rigid positions1. This theory, popularized by the groundbreaking work “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury, underscores the importance of collaborative problem-solving to create mutually beneficial outcomes. In principled negotiation, parties engage in a dialogue aimed at uncovering the interests, concerns, and priorities that drive their positions. By doing so, they move beyond adversarial posturing and seek solutions that satisfy everyone’s underlying needs, often resulting in a “win-win” resolution. Imagine a workplace dispute where two employees, Alice and Bob, are at odds over the allocation of office space. In a traditional, position-based negotiation, Alice might insist on having a private office, while Bob may argue for the same. However, in a principled negotiation, both parties engage in a conversation to understand each other’s interests. They discover that Alice values natural light due to a medical condition, while Bob needs a quiet workspace for concentration. Armed with this understanding, they collaboratively explore creative solutions, such as sharing a well-lit office space with noise-cancelling dividers, that accommodate both their needs and foster a harmonious working environment. Principled negotiation further encourages the use of objective criteria and fair standards to evaluate potential solutions. This approach facilitates transparency and minimizes subjective judgments, making it easier to reach agreements that are perceived as fair by all parties involved. In conclusion, principled negotiation theory is a transformative approach in ADR that transcends traditional adversarial tactics by focusing on interests, fostering collaboration, and striving for outcomes that address underlying needs. Its success lies in its ability to create mutually advantageous solutions while preserving relationships and promoting fairness in dispute resolution.


  1. Preparation :  Preparation: Before any interaction, decide the meeting’s location, timing, and participants. Set a time frame to prevent prolonged disagreements. Gather all relevant facts to clarify the issue, including organizational rules and policies that may guide the negotiation.
  2. Discussion: In this phase, each party presents its perspective on the issue. Effective communication skills like questioning, listening, and clarifying are essential. Taking notes can help record crucial points for further clarity. Listening is crucial to avoid misunderstandings.
  3. Clarifying Goals: Through discussion, clarify the goals, interests, and priorities of both sides. Identifying common ground often emerges during this process, helping align objectives and reduce misunderstandings.
  4. Negotiating a Win-Win Outcome: Strive for a “win-win” outcome where both parties feel their concerns are addressed positively. Although not always possible, it should be the goal.
  5. Agreement: Once both parties’ views and interests are considered, reach an agreement. Ensure that everyone involved fully understands the terms of the agreement.
  6. Implementation: After reaching an agreement, implement the course of action to carry out the decision. Open-mindedness is crucial to achieving an acceptable solution.


In conclusion, negotiation is a multifaceted process that has evolved significantly over time, driven by various theories and adapting to the changing dynamics of our globalized world. The development of negotiation theories, such as distributive bargaining, integrative bargaining, and principled negotiation, has enriched our understanding of how individuals and organizations can navigate conflicts and disputes effectively. These theories offer a range of strategies, from competitive to collaborative, empowering negotiators to tailor their approach to specific situations.

Moreover, negotiation has witnessed substantial growth in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), where it plays a pivotal role in resolving conflicts outside traditional legal frameworks. ADR methods, including mediation and arbitration, have gained prominence, offering efficient and cost-effective alternatives to litigation.

As negotiation continues to evolve, it remains a cornerstone of dispute resolution, diplomacy, business transactions, and everyday interactions. In an interconnected world, the ability to negotiate skilfully, guided by these diverse theories and principles, is an invaluable asset for individuals and organizations seeking to navigate complex negotiations and forge mutually beneficial agreements.


[1] Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, No. 26 of 1996, India.

[2] UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (2018)

[3] Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. v. Cherian Varkey Construction Co. (P) Ltd. (2010) 8 SCC 24 India.

[4] Narendra Kumar J. Jain v. Indrani Jai Singh, (2012) 8 SCC 628, India.

[5] Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Penguin.

[6] Robert J. Lewicki, Barry, Bruce Barry & David M. Saunders, Negotiation: Readings, Exercises, and Cases (McGraw-Hill Education 2015).


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