The Discourse of Negotiation: Studies of Language in the Workplace book cover

The Discourse of Negotiation: Studies of Language in the Workplace

The study of negotiation has attracted considerable scholarly attention in recent decades, yet rarely have discourse analysts applied their particular concerns and interests to the phenomenon. Although a fundamental characteristic of negotiation is linguistic action, the detailed study of negotiation as a communicative, discourse activity is in its infancy. In the first collection of its kind, Alan Firth has brought together 14 original studies of negotiation discourse.

Drawing on insights and methodologies from discourse and conversation analysis, pragmatics, ethnography and ethnomethodology, the book examines negotiations in a wide range of workplaces, including the US Federal Trade Commission, management-union meetings, doctors' surgeries, travel agencies, international trading houses in Denmark, Belgium and Australia, Swedish social welfare offices, and consumer helplines. Collectively, the book explores the notion of negotiation both as a formal encounter and as a gloss for more informal decision-making activities.

Questions specifically addressed include: what is the interactional character of negotiation? How are negotiations related to the work context? And how are negotiations undertaken linguistically - as discourse-based activities? Answers are sought by utilising transcripts of real-life instances of negotiation. This allows for finely-detailed descriptions of the observed activities, providing important insight into the discourse-context relationship, the interactional bases of work acitivities, and the communicative processes of negotiation.

Audience
For undergraduates, graduate students, professional researchers interested in language and social interaction, sociolinguistics, ethnography, as well as sociology, social psychology, anthropology, business studies, marketing, political science and communication studies.

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Published: December 1994

Imprint: Pergamon

ISBN: 978-0-08-042400-2

Reviews

  • Two introductory essays alone make this a worthwhile book. Firth's comprehensive, masterful review sets the stage for the following empirical studies of negotiational discourse. David Bell, a political linguist, takes on the thorny topic of power and authority. The studies themselves, covering a panorama of settings - doctor's office, welfare bureau, travel agency, consumers' helpline, software design firm, government, university, business - cover an extraordinary broad range of intra- and intercultural negotiations. This is a must-read for theorists, students, and practitioners of negotiation.
    Douglas W. Maynard, Indiana University, USA, May 1994


    ...a welcome collection...comes to fill a conspicuous gap in empirical discourse-centered studies of negotiation as a conversational activity in its own right...will be of definite interest to conversational analysts and sociolinguist is, as well as to those interested in conflict talk and professional interaction...an important initial attempt to integrate discourse-centered perspectives on negotiation discourse...they expose inconsistencies in our understanding of the discourse of negotiation, showing it to be still a relatively unexplored territory of talk-in-interaction, and indicating that perhaps more work on the discourse of unequivocal negotiations is called for before we can understand its less conspicuous forms.
    Language in Society, September 1995
    Negotiation has become quite a hot topic in pragmatics. Also, in conversation analysis and ethnomethodology, in recent years the focus has been more and more on talk in the workplace.... Firth presents a thorough discussion of the concept of negotiation, including a review of different research traditions.
    Patricia Haegeman, Pragmatics, 1995
    Firth's edited volume on 'negotiation activity' makes a substantial contribution to the growing literature on situated or transcript-based analyses of workplace interaction...This book, a genuine contribution to the study of workplace interaction is of interest to those engaged in the analysis of the social-structural contexts constituted by language in use.
    Functions of Language, 1995
    The Discourse of Negotiation...is a welcome addition to the literature on negotiation.... The introductory chapters, one by Alan Firth and one by David Bell, set the theoretical framework for the entire volume, raising issues of data collection, coding, analysis, and definition. Working within conversation analysis, the writers examine negotiation as an "activity of social decision making" (p. 6), not as the bounded event typical of formal negotiations.... Although this collection does not deal directly with SLA, it does deal with issues that are central to SLA research. Firth's and Bell's chapters address the critical issues of what constitutes reliable and valid analysis of transcripts, issues that all researchers of discourse must address.
    Denise E. Murray, SSLA, 1996
    Firth has drawn together a fascinating collection of papers analyzing naturalistic communication in various industrial, bureaucratic and service settings. The resulting collection makes a significant contribution to our understanding of negotiations as a communicative event.... Firth reviews negotiations research from different disciplinary perspectives.... For anyone studying negotiation from this discourse perspective, Firth's summary chapter is invaluable for highlighting the research findings of disciplines with which they are less familiar.... This collection extends our knowledge of negotiation as a discourse-based communicative process and effectively establishes a discourse and interactional perspective on the study of negotiation.... I recommend this book highly as a valuable source of theoretical and empirical insights which advances our understanding of negotiation in interaction.
    Deborah M Neil, Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1995

Contents

  • Preface (A. Firth). Contents. Transcript Notation. Theoretical Considerations. Introduction (A. Firth). Negotiation in workplaces: the view from a political linguist (D.V.J. Bell). Negotiation in Intraorganizational Encounters. Negotiation and compromise: a microanalysis of a discussion in the United States Federal Trade Commission (J. Bilmes). Agendas and arrangements: everyday negotiations in meetings (D. Boden). Making a bid for change: formulations in union/management negotiations (E. Walker). Masked negotiation in a Japanese work setting (K. Jones). Practices in the work of ordering software development (G. Button, W. Sharrock). Negotiation in Commodity Trading. Talking for a change: telephone-mediated negotiations in commodity trading (A. Firth). `Negotiating activity' in technical problem solving (J. Wagner). `Deviance' in intercultural business negotiations (H. Marriott). Negotiation in Professional-lay Interactions. Negotiating categories in travel agency calls (H. Mazeland et al.). Negotiating terms in social welfare office talk (P. Linell, E. Fredin). Disposal negotiations in general practice consultations (P. ten Have). Negotiating 'advice' in a call to a consumer helpline (B. Torode). Locating negotiation activity within document design presentations (J. Wheatley). References. Name Index. Subject Index.

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