TAU Study: Women as ‘savvy’ as men when negotiating on behalf of friends

Dr. Hila Dotan said that “what’s important for women is the sense of fighting for others, for their friends, for something bigger than themselves.”

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September 8, 2016 03:33
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Woman talks on the phone (Illustrative photo). (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

Women are as “savvy” and “exacting” as their male counterparts when negotiating with or on behalf of friends, according to a Tel Aviv University study on women in the workplace.

Dr. Hilla Dotan of the university’s Coller School of Management and Prof. Uta Herbst of Potsdam University in Germany led the research.

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Dotan and her team conducted two laboratory studies, which paired 216 MBA students in single-gender teams, some of whose members were friends and some of whom were not. The teams engaged in several multi-issue negotiations – concerning pesticide products in one scenario, and airplane engines and parts in another.

“When we looked at the negotiation tactics and outcomes of these young professionals, we found several differences between men and women,” said Dotan.

“However, the one condition under which we found no difference between men and women was when women negotiated in teams of friends.

“We found that women negotiate better outcomes when negotiating on behalf of others whom they care about,” she said.

Men do not exhibit a difference in that respect, she noted.



“What’s important for women is the sense of fighting for others, for their friends, for something bigger than themselves,” she said.

According to Dotan, existing research on the issue is “disheartening.”

Men initiate negotiations four times as often as women while women negotiators generally achieve 30 percent less than their male counterparts.

Additionally, 20 percent of women do not negotiate at all even when they believe they should and women consider negotiations a chore rather than a pleasure.

“We consistently read that women negotiate lower outcomes than men. But is this really true?” asked Herbst.

“We know that women generally behave differently in the workplace. They focus on maintaining relationships and cooperation and fostering harmony, which are ripe circumstances for negotiations. This behavioral aspect and the process of negotiations have commonly been overlooked in existing research,” she said.

Dotan explained that women tend to focus on the “process of negotiations and on building relationships and reputations.”

“These outcomes may not be seen in the immediate commercial outcomes, but may be observed over time.

This difference may indeed explain the differences between the genders and calls on researchers to take a more longitudinal perspective to evaluating negotiation outcomes,” she said.

The Tel Aviv University researcher said company management would benefit from fostering and encouraging personal relationships at work.

“Women naturally form relationships, and these organic friendships shouldn’t be touched, because they ultimately prove profitable for the company,” she said. “Companies would also be wise to recruit employees’ friends – although we should remember that ‘not all friendships are created equal.’”


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