This hilarious Monty Python clip demonstrates exactly how NOT to approach a negotiation! The convict attempting to buy the disguise is clearly on the run from the police, and as such he is not being patient and taking his time to get the best possible deal- something vital to a negotiation. He also fails to create any alternatives for himself- his 'best alternatives to a negotiated agreement' (BATNAs), as he must get the disguise else he will more than likely be convicted. This is a huge error, as he is basically at the mercy of the seller, who anchors the price at ’20 sheckles’, strongly influencing the negotiation outcome (Guthrie & Orr, 2006; Malhotra & Bazerman, 2007). This is most evident here, as the convict offers him the full asking price straight away, due to this lack of alternatives. This demonstrates the finding of Kim (2005), that the person with the most BATNAs relies less on negotiation, so has more power in the situation and often achieves a better outcome. Usually, this would be accepted, however in this case the value to the seller is engaging in the process of haggling.
This touches upon another key area, knowing others’ values before you enter the negotiation, as well as asking questions throughout in order to collect further information regarding the other's values in order to achieve the best possible deal (Guth, Schmittberger, and Schwarze, 1982). As such, the convict has no choice but to engage in this haggling process. During this, he breaks a further key negotiation rule; when attempting to haggle by offering lower prices, he does not provide reasons for these low prices, unlike the seller, which would make his offers more convincing and persuasive (Langer, Blank and Chanowitz, 1978).
Thus, we have Monty Python to thank for the take-home message: do NOT expect to negotiate effectively on the run!
Guthrie, C. & Orr, D. (2006) Anchoring, Information, Expertise, and Negotiation: New Insights from Meta-Analysis. Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, 2006; Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 06-12.
Malhotra, D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2007). Negotiation genius: How to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results at the bargaining table and beyond. New York: Bantam Books.
Kim, P. H. (2005). Choosing the path to bargaining power: An empirical comparison of BATNAs and contributions in negotiation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 373-381.
Guth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 3, 367-388.
Langer, E., Blank, A. & Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of “Placebic” information in interpersonal interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(6), 635-642.