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Distributive Negotiation vs. Integrative Negotiation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 16, 2023
Distributive negotiation is win-lose and focuses on dividing a fixed resource, while integrative negotiation is win-win, aiming to create value for both parties.

Key Differences

Distributive negotiation is often likened to dividing a pie where the more one party gets, the less the other receives. It operates on a zero-sum principle, meaning one party's gain is another's loss. In contrast, integrative negotiation is about expanding the pie, finding common ground, and seeking solutions where both parties benefit.
In distributive negotiation, parties are usually adversarial, guarding information and leveraging power to secure the most significant portion possible. Integrative negotiation, however, encourages collaboration and openness, with parties sharing information to find mutual benefits and achieve optimal outcomes.
While distributive negotiation is more about claiming value, integrative negotiation is centered on creating value. The former is a competition for resources, while the latter aims to understand the needs, interests, and concerns of both parties to generate synergies.
In practical scenarios, distributive negotiation might be seen in single-issue negotiations, such as haggling over the price of a product. Integrative negotiation, on the other hand, is more common in complex negotiations where multiple issues are discussed, and relationships are valued.
The mindset in distributive negotiation is often short-term, with a focus on immediate gains. In contrast, integrative negotiation fosters long-term relationships, ensuring that both parties feel satisfied and are willing to collaborate in the future.

Comparison Chart


Win-lose, zero-sum.
Win-win, value-creating.

Information Sharing

Guarded, limited openness.
Encouraged, promotes transparency.


Claiming value.
Creating and claiming value.

Typical Scenario

Single-issue negotiations like price haggling.
Complex, multi-issue negotiations.


Short-term focus on immediate gains.
Long-term focus, valuing relationships.

Distributive Negotiation and Integrative Negotiation Definitions

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation emphasizes immediate gains.
The vendor was strictly into distributive negotiation, unwilling to consider future business prospects.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation focuses on creating value for both parties.
The contract discussions were an integrative negotiation, with both sides finding areas of agreement.

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation focuses on dividing a fixed resource.
In the estate dispute, siblings engaged in distributive negotiation over the inheritance.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation addresses multiple issues collaboratively.
The merger talks were a classic case of integrative negotiation, with multiple facets considered.

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation operates on a zero-sum principle.
The salary negotiation was purely distributive, with each side trying to get the best deal.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation aims for mutual benefit.
The companies engaged in integrative negotiation to find joint ventures.

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation is typically adversarial.
The trade talks turned into a distributive negotiation, with each country pushing for its interests.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation promotes information sharing.
To arrive at a win-win solution, they opted for integrative negotiation and shared their constraints.

Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation involves a win-lose approach.
Buying a car often involves distributive negotiation over the price.

Integrative Negotiation

Integrative negotiation nurtures long-term relationships.
With a focus on the long-term partnership, the firms chose an integrative negotiation approach.


Can a negotiation have elements of both distributive and integrative approaches?

Yes, many real-world negotiations blend elements of both approaches.

Is relationship-building a key focus in distributive negotiation?

No, distributive negotiation often prioritizes immediate gains over long-term relationships.

Is haggling over a flea market price an example of distributive negotiation?

Yes, haggling over price is a typical example of distributive negotiation.

Which negotiation type aims for win-win outcomes?

Integrative negotiation aims for win-win outcomes.

Are multi-issue negotiations more suited to distributive or integrative negotiation?

Multi-issue negotiations are more suited to integrative negotiation.

Can distributive negotiation lead to strained relationships?

Yes, distributive negotiation can strain relationships due to its win-lose nature.

Is distributive negotiation a zero-sum game?

Yes, distributive negotiation operates on a zero-sum principle.

Can distributive negotiation be effective in one-off deals?

Yes, distributive negotiation can be effective for one-off transactions where relationship continuity isn't a priority.

Which negotiation type requires more preparation and research?

Integrative negotiation usually requires more preparation to understand mutual interests and create value.

Is it possible to start with distributive negotiation and transition to integrative?

Yes, negotiations can evolve based on the issues and interests of the parties involved.

Is trust more essential in distributive or integrative negotiation?

Trust is more vital in integrative negotiation due to its collaborative nature.

How do parties typically approach information sharing in integrative negotiation?

In integrative negotiation, parties usually promote transparency and information sharing.

Why is openness crucial in integrative negotiation?

Openness in integrative negotiation helps uncover mutual interests and create value for both parties.

Is brainstorming common in integrative negotiation?

Yes, brainstorming is encouraged in integrative negotiation to uncover mutual benefits.

In what scenarios might distributive negotiation be preferred?

Distributive negotiation might be preferred in single-issue, short-term deals where relationship continuity isn't essential.

What mindset is essential for successful integrative negotiation?

A collaborative mindset focused on mutual benefit is essential for integrative negotiation.

Which negotiation type often has a longer-term focus?

Integrative negotiation typically has a longer-term focus, valuing sustained relationships.

Can distributive negotiation be seen as competitive?

Yes, distributive negotiation is often viewed as competitive since parties vie for a larger share of a fixed resource.

How can power dynamics impact distributive negotiation outcomes?

In distributive negotiation, power dynamics can significantly influence the final outcome, with the more powerful party often securing a favorable deal.

Are communication skills crucial in integrative negotiation?

Yes, effective communication is vital in integrative negotiation to understand mutual interests and convey one's own.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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