Letís make a deal! Negotiations in the virtual world

Barbara Black

The winning student team: Elaheh Safari shakes hands with Alberto Vasquez. Looking on, from left, are Yi Zhang and Xianhua Huang in the back and Luo Yang, Xin Zhang and Yanhong Li in the front.

photo by kate Hutchinson

A group of business students got a glimpse of the future recently during an experiment in electronic negotiation.

Norma Paradis, manager of the InterNeg Research Center at the JMSB, explained that the teams were invited to compete using an innovative system called Invite.

“The winners were selected based on their negotiation performance in relationship to the business case. These participants showed that they understood the business needs of the scenario, could apply keen negotiation tactics to achieve their needs, and used Invite efficiently as well as effectively.”

Because the InterNeg Research Centre is developing electronic negotiation systems, its researchers need to know their impact in terms of economic outcome, user acceptance, relationship building and emotional factors.

Eva Chen, a PhD student working at the Centre, said the students signed up online. “They showed a lot of interest in our electronic business negotiation scenario and the system we provided,” she said.

“They were given the same business case, a multi-issue contract negotiation, for the sake of experimental rigor. However, depending on the treatment, they were given different systems. “The participants were given one hour to negotiate, and some decision support tools.

“We believe that the face of the marketplace is changing,” Chen said. “Businesses need no longer be limited to local supplier or confined to regulated boards. By providing students these prototype systems, they get a first glance at practical systems based on academic research models, using something that may one day be implemented in the marketplace.

“Moreover, they are learning and practicing negotiation skills that will be useful to them in any deal.”