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Competitiveness, Gender and Ethics in Legal Negotiations: Some Empirical Evidence

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The role of gender in negotiation has been extensively explored and documented in a now rich body of literature. A main strand of empirical evidence suggests that women, largely due to their gender socialization, tend to be weaker negotiators relative to men and consequently, less effective in pursuing their economic, social or family interests in diverse bargaining settings. We present findings from a Greek setting that paint a different picture, in which gender does not have a strong impact on the negotiating process when the negotiating parties are members of a competitive profession. We selected three different groups (Greek attorneys-at-law, Greek business students and a control group comprised of young employees in public and private organizations) and distributed self-assessment questionnaires to test for negotiating style and gender-specific negotiation behavior. Our findings suggest that differences which may be attributed to gender are less pronounced for Greek legal practitioners. Stronger determinants of successful outcomes in negotiations are negotiators' individual characteristics (competitive negotiating style, persuasion, social and emotional intelligence) and the conformity of Greek lawyers of both sexes to the competitive group norms of their profession. Therefore, the shared norms and values of professional culture play a critical role in how lawyers negotiate. We discuss these findings in the context of a larger social setting, especially by reference to the changing hierarchies and shifts in power in a legal profession increasingly populated by women.

Affiliations: 1: Bank of Greece, Athens, Greece; 2: ALBA Graduate Business School, Athinas Avenue & 2A Areos Street, 16671 Vouliagmeni, Athens, Greece


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