Roman Trötschel is a social psychologist at the Leuphana University in Germany. Under his direction, the 'Negotiation Research Group' (NRG) at the Faculty of Sustainability investigates decision-making processes in business, political, and environmental negotiations. The research of Roman Trötschel is supported by different funding agencies such as the European Union Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Volkswagen Foundation (VW-Stiftung), the Hans-Böckler Foundation, and the Dispute Resolution Research Centre (DRRC) of the Kellogg School of Management. 

Psychological Perspectives on Negotiations

Psychological negotiation research empirically investigates the impact of the “human factor” in negotiations—how negotiators’ minds and behaviors affect the bargaining process and outcomes. Specifically, psychologists investigate how parties think, feel, and behave in different negotiation contexts and how these psychological processes may become a driver or a barrier towards integrative negotiation agreements. In his research, Roman Trötschel investigates various psychological processes such as cognitive heuristics (e.g., anchoring, framing), mental accounting processes (e.g., mental parsing, mental balancing, outcome editing), strategic mindsets (e.g., perspective-taking mindsets; integrative mindsets), group processes (e.g., social identity, process gains vs. losses), or different resource allocation procedures (e.g., distributing vs. contributing resources).

Negotiating Social Transformaton

The Negotiation Research Group (NRG) investigates psychological processes in negotiations on ecological, economical, or societal transformations. Transformation negotiation can be defined as negotiations aimed at initiating, shaping, organizing, and managing the process of change in the context of economic, ecological, societal, or cultural transition. Transformation negotiations seek to promote sustainable development through a) incorporating outcomes on multiple levels such as on the economical, ecological, and social dimension b) integrating multilateral interests of parties at and beyond the negotiation table, and c) balancing immediate, short- and long-term consequences across a prolonged period of time. Transformation negotiations aim at solving intersectional and intergenerational conflicts in the context of economical, ecological, societal, or cultural transition.

Psychological Perspectives on Transformation Negotiations

From a psychological standpoint, negotiating societal transformation is particularly challenging as it raises cognitive demands and evokes various social conflicts at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup levels. Crucially, negotiators need to mentally balance benefits and burdens across various outcome dimensions (e.g., economic, ecologic, and social outcomes). In addition, negotiators must not only consider all negotiating parties’ interests (i.e., outcomes of parties at the table) but also need to reflect on the interests of parties absent from the negotiation (outcomes of parties beyond the table). On top of that, negotiators also need to reconcile immediate and future consequences of their negotiated agreements, thus taking a long-term perspective on the whole process of conflict solutions.

Parties negotiating societal change face the severe challenge to solve the immediate and pressing conflicts at the table while also considering social conflicts beyond the table (e.g., conflicts between present and future generations, conflicts with parties not being involved in the negotiation, conflicts arising at other locations, conflicts arising on various outcome dimensions). Only if parties take these “externalities” of their agreements into account can they achieve sustainable solutions across all varieties of arising social conflicts.

Beyond managing the variety of social conflicts, transformation negotiations commonly are characterized by a high level of uncertainty (i.e., all potential outcomes can be foreseen and can be predicted on a certain level of likelihood), incalculability (all potential outcomes can be foreseen but cannot be predicted on a certain level of likelihood), or even unpredictability (i.e., potential outcomes cannot be foreseen and thus cannot be predicted on a certain level of likelihood). Thus, from a psychological perspective, sustainable conflict solutions are particularly difficult to attain as they refer to future developments and upcoming events that are difficult to predict or foresee.

Current Research Projects

As transformation negotiations are affected by the complex interplay of various psychological factors that have not yet been systematically addressed in empirical negotiation research, different psychological mechanisms are investigated in separate research projects of the NRG. The following list of research fundings, Ph.D.- and habilitation projects (i.e., postdoctoral research projects) provides a brief overview of the ongoing research on transformation negotiations at the NRG.

  • Mental Accounting in Negotiations with Multi-dimensional Outcomes: Balancing Benefits and Burdens Across Different Utility Dimensions (PI: Roman Trötschel; Co-PIs: Marco Schauer, Johann Majer, Hong Zhang); Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Conflicts as a Barrier towards Sustainable Agreements (PI: Johann Majer, Co-PI: Roman Trötschel); Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Resource Allocations in Distribution and Contribution Negotiations: Bargaining the Collectivization and Privatization of Benefits and Burdens (PIs: Roman Trötschel, Hong Zhang, Simon Moran, Ilana Ritov; Co-PIs: Marie van Treek, Johann Majer, Kai Zhang); Funded by the Volkswagen-Foundation (VW-Stiftung)
  • Achieving Sustainable Agreements in Labor Negotiations: Evaluating a Mindset-Based Negotiation Training (PI: Roman Trötschel, Marco Warsitzka; Co-PI: Michel Mann, Joachim Hüffmeier); Funded by the Hans-Böckler-Foundation
  • Sustainable solutions in intra- and intergenerational conflicts (PI: Johann Majer, Marie van Treek; Co-PI: Roman Trötschel, Hong Zhang); Funded by the Leuphana-Research-Fund
  • Strategic agenda setting in integrative negotiations under time constraints (PI: Hong Zhang; Co-PI: Roman Trötschel); Funded by the Leuphana-Research-Fund
  • Social Capital in Transformation Negotiations: Solving Conflicts of Interest at and Beyond the Negotiation Table (PI: Kai Zhang; Co-PI: Roman Trötschel, Hong Zhang, Hillie Aalderling); Funding Applied from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture
  • Dealing with Deals Implying a Great Deal of Uncertainty, Incalculability, and Unpredictability in Negotiations (PI: Marco Schauer; Co-PI; Roman Trötschel, Johann Majer)
  • Negotiating Right of Ownership vs. Right of Use: Achieving Sustainable Negotiation Agreements Through the Principles of Commoning (PI: Roman Trötschel; Co-PI: Caroline Heydenbluth, Hong Zhang, Hillie Aalderling)
  • Integrative Mindsets and the Solution of Value Conflicts (PI: Carolin Schuster, Co-PI: Roman Trötschel, Fieke Harrinck)