Imbins© (InterNeg multi-bilateral integrative negotiation system) is a multi-bilateral (i.e. one vs. many) negotiation system powered by Invite©. It allows for the specification of preferences, assessment of offers, management of communication, graphical display of the negotiation's progress, and other functions. The system is flexible and can be used as:
- a game,
- a demonstration decision support system (DSS),
- a negotiation simulator,
- a demonstration negotiation support system (NSS), and
- a research and training tool.
Using Imbins requires following a sound approach to negotiation that has been proposed by experts, has been used by over 800 users, and is the cornerstone of negotiation analysis. There are three basic phases of a negotiation:
Specific terms used in negotiation analysis and in Imbins are explained in our glossary.
As a game, Imbins provides an opportunity to practice and sharpen your bargaining skills. For inexperienced negotiators, Imbins's clear steps provide a guide through the negotiation process. For more experienced practitioners, the system allows the player to graphically track the development of the negotiation through numerous rounds of offers and counter-offers. You can elaborate your arguments for your position through the message facility.
- DSS for the pre-negotiation phase
One of the key features of Imbins is that it can act as an individual decision support system. Before beginning the actual negotiation, players must consider the importance of each issue as well as the acceptability of each option within an issue. This forces the negotiator to define her/his preferences over issues and to consider what trade-offs may be required. The system also presents estimates of the utility of the various combinations of options and overall utility of complete packages.
- Negotiation simulator
Imbins can also act as a simulator to prepare you for a particular negotiation. The system is designed so that cases may be entered by users. When faced with an upcoming negotiation, the user can engage in mock negotiations to understand how the issues may emerge once the bargaining has begun in earnest. One could even use Imbins to parallel an ongoing negotiation. After each offer the opponent's offer could be entered to understand what progress, if any, is being made and what trade-offs are emerging.
- NSS for real-life negotiations
Imbins can also act as an NSS to support and facilitate real-life negotiations. The system is designed so that several parties who can agree on the issues and the possible options for those issues can negotiate over the Web. This is an obvious advantage when the parties are widely separated and may have difficulty arranging meetings.
- Research and training tool
Finally, Imbins has an international dimension. The current implementation of the system links players from around the world. This reflects the current reality of economic organizations. Through Imbins users can study and practice international negotiation involving people from diverse cultures to help understand how different values and expectations may influence the negotiation process.
There are three basic phases that are usually followed in any negotiation:
- Preparation for the negotiation, during which you assess the situation, identify the stakeholders, and develop a very clear understanding of the issues and interests involved. To help you through this phase, Imbins provides you with a detailed description of your negotiation case, and then it guides you through a sequence of steps in which you state the importance of each issue and each alternative. This phase is also called preference elicitation. In some situations, the preferences may be given so you will play as an negotiation agent on behalf of the principal. The information obtained is used by Imbins in the next phase to give you helpful feedback when constructing new offers or evaluating your counterpart's offers.
- The actual negotiation phase during which you and your counterpart(s) exchange a series of messages and offers, creating a suitable atmosphere for the negotiation, presenting your side of the case, and bargaining until you reach an agreement. Imbins gives you menus by which you can construct offers and messages. It further supports you by displaying a rating (score) beside each offer based on your preference information from the first phase, and by plotting a graph of the offer-exchange history of the parties in your negotiation (entirely from your perspective).
- The conclusion is reached when you and your counterpart(s) reach an agreement or decide to terminate the negotiation if no settlement can be made. Following this there is a brief questionnaire and an opportunity to make comments.