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Beyond the first offer : decoding negotiation openings and their impact on economic and subjective outcomes

  • First offers play a significant role in negotiations as they anchor negotiators’ perceptions and influence negotiation outcomes in favor of the first-offer proposer. However, negotiation is a joint decision-making process in which a first offer is typically succeeded by a counteroffer. The impact of a counteroffer has not yet been systematically researched. We propose that a counteroffer influences negotiation outcomes like a first offer. In addition, we conceptualize the “anchor zone” as the distance between the first offer and the counteroffer. We theorize that the anchor zone influences negotiation outcomes because it captures additional information compared to a single offer. To test our hypotheses, we conducted two studies: Study 1 was a vignette study (n = 190) in which participants reacted to a counteroffer that they received based on their first offer as part of a simulated negotiation. Study 2 was an online experiment (n = 212) in which participants negotiated by exchanging offers with no further communication. Our analysis suggests that the counteroffer is a significant predictor of economic outcomes. Thus, it works like a first offer, but with a lower impact. In addition, the anchor zone predicted how far the final agreement was from the first offer. Furthermore, we found that the third offer, the average concessions, and the number of offers mediated the effects of the counteroffer and anchor zone on economic outcomes. Finally, we discovered that a more aggressive counteroffer reduced the subjective value of both negotiators.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Wolfram E. LippORCiD, Remigiusz SmolinskiORCiD, Peter KestingORCiD
Center:Center for International Negotiation (CIN)
Parent Title (English):Group decision and negotiation
Issue:2 (April 2023)
Date of Publication (online):2023/01/30
First Page:395
Last Page:433
Tag:Anchoring; Bargaining; Counteroffer; First offer; Negotiation
Content Focus:Academic Audience
Peer Reviewed:Yes
Rankings:AJG Ranking / 2
VHB Ranking / B
SJR Ranking / Q2
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International