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Sweet Little Lies: Social Context and the Use of Deception in Negotiation
Journal of Business Ethics (2014)
  • Mara Olekalns, Melbourne Business School
  • Carol T Kulik, University of South Australia
  • Lin Chew, University of Melbourne
Social context shapes negotiators’ actions, including their willingness to act unethically. In this research, we test how three dimensions of social context – dyadic gender composition, negotiation strategy, and trust – interact to influence one micro-ethical decision, the use of deception, in a simulated negotiation. To create an opportunity for deception, we incorporated an indifference issue – an issue that had no value for one of the two parties – into the negotiation. Deception about this issue was least likely to be affected by trust or negotiation strategy in all-male dyads, suggesting that dyads with at least one female negotiator were more sensitive to social context than all-male dyads. In mixed-sex and all-female dyads, trust and negotiation strategy interacted to affect the use of deception. A consistent picture emerged in mixed-sex dyads, which increased their use of deception when three forms of trust (affective, benevolent, deterrent) were low and negotiators used an accommodating strategy. However, a more complex pattern emerged in all-female dyads. When negotiators in all-female dyads competed, low benevolence-based trust increased whereas low deterrence-based decreased deception. When negotiators in all-female dyads accommodated, high affect-based trust increased deception. Jointly, these findings suggest that in all-female dyads, negotiators use multiple and shifting reference points in deciding when to deceive the other party.
  • negotiation,
  • deception,
  • trust,
  • gender,
  • ethics
Publication Date
Citation Information
Mara Olekalns, Carol T Kulik and Lin Chew. "Sweet Little Lies: Social Context and the Use of Deception in Negotiation" Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 120 (2014)
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