When are you in over your head? How do you increase your bargaining power when you feel you are in an impossibly weak position? As in all negotiations you would first assess your BATNA and you would try to change the game to be more favorable to your position. You would appeal to the other side’s sense of fairness. But sometimes none of this works and your best course of action might be to form a coalition to enhance your strength.

Coalitions are common. We see them in labor negotiations where the collective power of the membership far exceeds the power of a single employee trying to negotiate their compensation. Not going it alone is often the best path a weaker party can choose.

Coalitions avoid destructive competition with one another. It allows you to pool resources. It diffuses the ability of the other side to play you off against another party with similar interest to yours. A coalition will allow you to negotiate more efficiently.

To make your coalition most effective follow these rules.

  • Search out and recognize coalition opportunities. Seek out common interests and pool your collective resources and agendas.
  • Assess the pros and cons of a coalition. Lawrence Suskind of MIT suggests the following:
    • Is the coalition well organized enough to negotiate as a group?
    • What are the costs of joining a coalition?
    • Does the coalition have an ethical reputation?
    • Do the potential members of the coalition understand the value of joining a coalition?
    • What are the collective consequences of the negotiation not going well?
    • Do the benefits of the coalition outweigh the risks?
    • If the coalition succeeds how will the coalition allocate the value it creates?


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