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Establishing Trust via Technology: Long Distance Practices and Pitfalls

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image of International Negotiation

Global negotiators often depend upon communication technologies to convey information and strike deals. Unfortunately, negotiations conducted via more "lean" media (e.g., e-mail, telephone) have been associated with low levels of trust and difficulties in reaching agreements. We explore two approaches to building trust while communicating via the internet. Derived from the literature on interpersonal trust, negotiators were asked to adopt one of two strategies. The first was to build personal rapport. The second was to discuss ground rules and procedures for the negotiation. Negotiators who spent time building rapport reported greater levels of trust, and were more confident and satisfied with their outcomes. These perceptions were evident even though outcomes were comparable across conditions. The most negatively perceived negotiations were those that included rules discussions without the benefit of rapport. Implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.


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