Participants signed up to complete the negotiation experiment in pairs: one was assigned the role of recruiter for a company; the other was assigned the role of a recently graduated MBA student who was applying to the company for a position. In separate rooms, the participants received information about the background of their respective roles. Recruiters were informed that they were responsible for recruiting a new graduate to a role to their company, and the applicants, who had just completed an MBA, were informed that they were there to negotiate a job contract for a position within a large electronics firm.
Amongst the set of instructions provided, negotiators were given information about the motivational orientation that they needed to adopt for the condition they were assigned - either cooperative or competitive. In the cooperative condition, both negotiators were instructed to maximise joint gain, in the competitive condition, to maximise individual gain, and in the mixed condition one negotiator was instructed to maximise joint gain and the other individual gain. For the mixed motivation condition, the roles of recruiter and applicant were counterbalanced across motivational orientation. Negotiators received their instructions in separate rooms so as to ensure that they were blind to the motivational orientation of the other party.
The negotiators were then brought together and introduced as either the applicant or the recruiter. They then received information that stipulated the objectives of the negotiation and then received a set of written instructions that reinforced the information about their respective roles. They also received their individualised payoff schedules, which detailed all of the outcome options they could achieve on each of the eight issues. They were instructed not to show their payoff schedules to the other party. Had they been able to view each other's schedules they may have been less inclined to discuss the issues and been more inclined to directly trade off points that they had. They were then provided with a questionnaire to determine whether they had correctly understood the way the payoff schedules were to be interpreted.
Once the negotiators indicated that they understood their instructions, they were questioned to determine whether their goal was to maximise individual gain (competitive motivation) or joint gain (cooperative motivation). This question acted as a manipulation check for the experimental condition they had been assigned. Negotiators were then provided with up to one hour to negotiate the contract, and to reach an agreement in writing. The negotiations were videotaped for subsequent analyses.
On completion of the negotiation, the negotiators were asked to indicate, on a nine-point scale, whether their behaviour during the negotiation had been more competitive or cooperative. On this scale, "1" represented competitive behaviour, and "9" represented cooperative behaviour. This measure acted as a secondary validity check of their motivational orientation. Following completion of this questionnaire, negotiators were debriefed as to the aims of the experiment .