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Valparaiso Univ. Law School

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Friday, September 9, 2005

The Benefits and Drawbacks of “E-Negotiation”

Does negotiation of a contract on e-mail speed up the process or slow it down?  A recent article from law.com posits that, paradoxically, it does a little bit of both.  Obviously, e-mail allows the parties to exchange the information more quickly than traditional methods.  However, in so doing, it facilitates the exchange of numerous drafts, which may actually slow down the negotiation process.  Also, e-mail replies require “at least a little time to compose and send.” 

Likewise, absent traditional “face to face” or telephone interaction, the importance of certain negotiation points may become obscured; “throw in” points to a contract make appear to take on a higher level of significance.  Similarly, without “direct communication” the effectiveness of “subtle pressures” may be lost.

It seems, then, that the optimal negotiation strategy does not exclusively use e-mail, but also uses telephone and “face to face” exchanges.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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