Negotiations Between Buyers and Sellers
: What Really Happens When Buyers and Sellers Negotiate

  • Stephen Grant Hubbard

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this thesis is to extend the current knowledge to understand what happens when buyers and sellers negotiate. The review of literature considers the processes, approaches, relationships and behaviours of negotiators in the current status regarding negotiations between buyers and sellers.

    The major justification for this work is that the dominant concepts and theories developed in the academic literature are not supported by empirical evidence from professional negotiators in purchasing and sales. Previous research has mainly been conducted using either simulated negotiations to try to model or predict what happens in negotiation situations, or viewing the subject from a sales and marketing perspective. Minimal research has been identified concerned with what professional buyers, performing the role of negotiating with salespeople, actually do, and what motivates them to do it. The literature on negotiation specifically for the buyer from the 1960s was very limited indeed, although several general purchasing texts included something on the subject. 

    The research method adopted for this thesis is a qualitative study. Twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews were held with senior negotiators, thirteen of whom were buyers, three were involved in both buying and selling, and four of whom were sellers.

    Following the interviews, two questionnaires were sent to all of the actors based on well established instruments that have been used throughout the history of negotiation in the emerging procurement profession. The first questionnaire gathered data on the perceptions of the actors on the relative importance of thirty-four qualitative characteristics of negotiators, and the second questionnaire determined their opinions relating to ten pairs of binary variables relating to how negotiators behave.

    The theoretical contribution of this thesis to knowledge is via a number of new principles of negotiation. These principles represent the key underpinning foundations of negotiations between buyers and sellers from the buying negotiator’s position.

    The contribution to practice is to enable an enhanced understanding to the practice of negotiation between buyers and sellers. This is to be achieved via the new principles of negotiation, which may enable practitioners to improve their negotiation outcomes, based on what works in practice for senior negotiators. 

    This research is important because negotiations between buyers and sellers has been neglected in the purchasing and supply management (P&SM) field for over four decades since Chester Karrass completed his doctoral research in 1968. It is also important because it is the first research to bring empirical data from practising negotiators into the body of knowledge on the subject.
    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish


    • Buyers and Sellers
    • Negotiation
    • Purchasing and Supply Management

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