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Reader’s Review

John Baker

The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture
Edited by Michele J. Gelfand and Jeanne M. Brett
458pp. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2004.
Hardcover Edition: (US) $ 75.00

Michele J. Gelfand holds a Ph. D. in Psychology and is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland where she is involved with the Organizational Psychology program and an affiliate faculty member of the social psychology program, the RH Smith School of Business and the Communication Department. Dr. Gelfand is also a co-author of two forthcoming books on organizational behavior.

Jeanne M. Brett holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology. Dr. Brett is the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations and the Director of the Dispute Resolution Research Center at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Professor Brett is the author of over fifty articles and four books.

Professors Gelfand and Brett have attempted and achieved an astonishing feat in bringing together a comprehensive review of recent research in the psychological and social process fields that underlies new findings, future research directions and important reflections on current theories of negotiation behavior. The editors have created a carefully crafted design, selected and meshed the works of some 36 outstanding contributors from across the globe and representing many disciplines and in the process produced a valuable and useful work certain to be of interest to the researcher and the negotiation student.

This is a book that is likely to be primarily of interest to the negotiation scholar and teacher, but also should be of interest to the practitioner and reader on negotiation. Its language and style is scholarly, which is often off-putting for many readers, but for the general reader with a penchant for understanding the current thrusts and directions within the field it will be a valuable read. It is a book I enjoyed and will return to in the future.

The work is laid out quite clearly. It begins with a review of current research and findings, arranged into three sections. The first examines psychological findings on negotiation; the second explores negotiation as illuminated by social process research and the third section examines the broader environmental and social context within which negotiations operate. Negotiations are not “‘bracketed’ encounters” one of the contributors, Roderick M. Kramer, argues, but in reality are always “embedded in complex social, political and institutional interactions (p. 224). Much of our research, of course, is conducted as if this reality was not relevant.

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May/June 2005