The film Pirates of the Caribbean is full of deception, lies, deceit and betrayal, but it is within this scene that we witness the art of negotiation. We are presented with a helpless Jack Sparrow; captured and betrayed, he is at the mercy of his enemy. However, he still has information which Beckett requires, meaning his life is spared whilst he still remains the only individual with this knowledge. Fully aware of this, Jack freely haggles away, attempting to get more for what he knows.
In a negotiation knowing your alternatives is key to success. Negotiators need to know their best alternative to negotiated agreement (BATNA) in order to ensure that the outcome is what they want. Pinkley, Neale, and Bennett (1994) looked at the effect of BATNA on negotiated outcomes. Individuals with a BATNA got better individual outcomes when compared to those with either no BATNA, or with a BATNA of low quality.
Going into this deal Beckett wants to find out where the pirate kings are and how to beat them, whereas Jack is looking for freedom, a way of avoiding the wrath of Davey Jones and, although not explicitly saying it, a way of getting his ship back. Within this scene both characters have their own best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA).
Beckett makes it clear that his BATNA is simply to shoot Jack, take the compass for himself and find the pirates. This gives him an advantage, as Jacks main aim is of course to stay alive and thus wouldn’t want to refuse this deal. By making Jack aware of his BATNA, Beckett hopes to gain a better outcome from the deal than Jack. As well as this, Beckett is attempting to dominate the negotiation by threatening Jack. Research has shown that this technique is associated with the negotiator feeling as though he is confident and in control (Friedland, 1976).
However Jack also has a BATNA, which is to not help Beckett; Jack states that this will leave Beckett with no hope of ever getting what he desires. Jack hopes that his BATNA will gain him his life and the chance to get what he wants.
By both having a BATNA they are able to reach a deal in which they both believe they are getting what they wanted; Jack his freedom, and Beckett, his pirates. Unbeknown to Beckett, you should never trust a Pirate as, in the way he always does, Jack tricks Beckett. Despite this, this scene is a great example of how to adapt what you ideally want and go for your best alternative.
Friedland, N. (1976). Social influences via threats. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 12, 552-563.