Many types of negotiations occur in business settings. This example is indicative of the ethical dilemmas inherent in many negotiations.
Assume for a moment that you are the owner – CEO of a small machine and tool company. You have 35 employees, most of whom are highly skilled machinists who belong to Local 999 of the International Brotherhood of Good Guys Union. Generally, you are an open manager with an abiding sense of fair play and ethics. For this reason, you have been able to attract workers who are skilled and committed to the company’s long-term success. In fact, labor relations are calm – even harmonious. For example, contract violations are usually handled between you and shop stewards in a problem-solving context with an almost complete absence of acrimony or contentiousness. Now, however, you face a serious and unprecedented issue. Due to an economic downturn, business activity has taken a sharp decline with the expectation that things will get much worse. You have just met with your accountant who has informed you there is no other choice but to lay off people or reduce wages. Your initial meeting with the union representatives shocked you into reality since it was filled with divisiveness, arguing, name-calling, and even occasional profanity. Things turn much worse in the second meeting since the union lawyers were present. After reading the article by Reitz, Wall, and Love (attached in the Module 5 Topic Materials), you are stunned to discover that the deceptive tactics outlined in the article read like a primer for what the union is doing. Answer the following questions based on the case and the article:
What type of conflict is occurring in this case and what conflict management style would you, as the manager use? Justify your choice.
What are your options given the union’s apparent duplicity and lack of ethical standards? The last negotiations ended with your attorney angrily advising you to “fight fire with fire,” meaning that business conditions dictate loosening your standards of integrity and honesty in negotiation. The problem is you think she may be right. Describe specifically what you would do.
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