Business-to-Business Negotiations: The Role of Relativism, Deceit, and Opportunism



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Negotiations, business ethics, opportunism


Purpose: Studies examining the impact of relativism and deceitful tendencies on unethical negotiation tactics have yielded inconsistent results; some studies report a positive relationship, some negative, while some others report a nonexistent relationship between these constructs. These inconsistencies suggest that there may be intervening variables mediating the effects of these factors on unethical negotiation tactics. We propose that opportunism plays an important role in determining the effects of these two antecedents on business managers' perceptions of unethical negotiation tactics. Method: An Internet-based survey was administered to a sample of managers at U.S. firms engaged in business-to-business marketing. Structural equation modeling techniques were used to evaluate the mediating role of opportunism between deceitful tendencies and relativism on questionable negotiation tactics. Findings: The analysis supports the hypothesized role of opportunism as a mediating variable. Opportunism was found to play a significant role in mediating the relationships of both relativism and deceitful tendencies on attitudes toward unethical negotiation tactics. Contribution: In addition to the theoretical contributions suggested here, this article includes suggestions for minimizing the likelihood that a negotiation partner's relativism and deceitful tendencies will negatively impact business negotiation.

Published in

Journal of Business to Business Marketing