The dramaturgy of labour/management negotiations

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Nuttall, Mark G.
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Research on labour/management negotiation traditionally has focused on the 'instrumental' elements of negotiating, including the likelihood of bargaining success based on a series of structural factors. The ' expressive' dimension of negotiating, i.e., the interactional strategies employed by negotiators, has been less emphasized. This study is an attempt to address this imbalance. It investigates and describes labour/management negotiation using Goffman's Dramaturgy Model. The primary objectives of this study are to determine whether labour/management negotiations are dramaturgical in nature and to describe the dramaturgy employed by negotiators. In-depth interviews, primarily consisting of open-ended questions, were conducted with ten labour/management negotiators. Chief negotiators, five from labour and five from management, were selected to ensure an interview group with maximum interactional experience and expertise. The interview group was diverse, included both male and female negotiators, and was drawn from multiple sectors, including the health care, education, government, not-for-profit and private sectors. The interviews were transcribed and then coded for instances of the dramaturgical principles delineated by Goffman. Additionally, data gathered through the open-ended questions yielded elements of the dramaturgy of labour/management negotiations beyond those expressly indicated as principles. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)