Pohle, Stefanie: "I tell you what we could do, we could say, cut it to a hundred and ninety-five, and offer you a significant discount on breakfast" - Expressing Commitment in Business Discourse : An Empirical Analysis of Offers in Irish English Negotiations. - Bonn, 2009. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Stefanie Pohle}},
title = {"I tell you what we could do, we could say, cut it to a hundred and ninety-five, and offer you a significant discount on breakfast" - Expressing Commitment in Business Discourse : An Empirical Analysis of Offers in Irish English Negotiations},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2009,
month = oct,

note = {In the present study it is claimed that the outcome of a negotiation is the result of the interactive dealing with offers during the negotiation process. The general importance of offers and their strategic potential is recognised by negotiation researchers and authors of best-selling 'how to negotiate' guides alike. Nevertheless, there are only very few empirical studies on negotiation which examine offer utterances and longer sequences in detail. The current study seeks to contribute to filling this gap.
Offers are analysed on all discourse levels: the individual utterance on the level of act, supportive moves accompanying offers, offer exchanges and sequences, and offer occurrences on the level of phase. Thus, a model emerges which can be used to describe the nature of offers in business negotiations, independent of the type of negotiation scenario or culture of the participants. Based on the results of earlier works on offers in everyday conversation and in negotiations, a comprehensive range of aspects related to offers is analysed: pragmatic roles of the negotiators, their relational work, the contingency aspect of offers, offer topics, and offer realisation strategies. The analysis of the interactional structure of offer exchanges and sequences, including elicited vs. non-elicited offers, requests for offers, and offer responses, uncovers further interesting patterns. Light is also shed on the strategic value of offers in a more general sense. Two broader topic areas are of particular interest and are described in great detail. They reflect negotiation patterns which are observable across all discourse levels: first, reciprocity and exchange, and second, recursiveness.
The present study takes an integrative approach by combining different methodologies and theories: linguistic pragmatics (especially speech act theory), discourse analysis, and conversation analysis. What is more, the results are related to the findings from studies of argumentation in spoken discourse and from non-linguistic approaches to negotiation, e.g. economics, business and management studies, social psychology, sociology, communication studies, and popular scientific manuals.
The data consist of transcripts of Irish English dyadic face-to-face business negotiations. Eight Irish businessmen took part in four intracultural negotiation simulations. The sound recordings were subsequently transcribed and coded. The investigation is a qualitative in-depth case study. Nevertheless, some statistical aspects (frequency distributions) are taken into account when interpreting the data. However, the quantitative analysis is restricted to the description of absolute and relative frequencies.
Although the focus is on offers, related speech actions, such as promises, proposals, concessions, pledges, are also taken into account. Their most significant common denominator is their commissive illocutionary force: the speaker expresses his willingness or intention to do something in the future, thereby placing himself under an obligation to the hearer. The primary function of offers in negotiations is to receive something with economic value in return, such as a product, a service, money, or the other party's commitment to do more business in the future. Offers, therefore, also have a strong directive component in this type of speech event. Similarities and differences between offers in negotiations and those typical of everyday situations are repeatedly highlighted throughout the study.
In some respects, the present study confirms the findings of previous investigations of Irish English language use: the negotiators place great emphasis on cooperation, and they frequently employ indirect, evasive, and non-confrontational strategies. In other respects, however, all negotiators in the present study engage in a reciprocal relationship displaying elements of competition. They try to be assertive without appearing emphatic. The negotiators are at times direct and confrontational, are focused on the task, pursue their goals, and clearly communicate their intentions. Lacking comparative data, the question which of the observed features represent a 'typically Irish' communication style cannot be conclusively answered in this study. However, several arguments support the assumption that the findings are rather indicative of the genre business negotiation, pointing to a strategic use of language.
Offers are central to negotiation discourse, both quantitatively and qualitatively: three quarters of the Irish English negotiations under study are devoted to the communication of offers (including requests for offers, offer responses, and supportive moves). Offer-making is not exclusively tied to the seller role, nor is request for offer-making exclusively associated with the buyer role. The study also confirms earlier research that negotiation is a non-linear, interactive, and dynamic process. The negotiators' basis of decision-making constantly changes because in the course of the negotiation they acquire new pieces of information that modify their existing knowledge. Offers are not static. On the contrary, they are adapted by the negotiators to the needs of the negotiation situation with the aim of reaching an agreement which is acceptable to both sides.},

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