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  • Inspire glossary

    An agreement or compromise is the package (combination of options across all issues) that both negotiators jointly agree upon after exchanging a sequence of offers.

    Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)
    BATNA is the minimum acceptable value for a negotiated agreement. This value is determined by an individual's knowledge of the negotiated issues and options. Any offer which is higher than BATNA is better than an impasse. During the negotiation process, the compromise comes from the offer which is more attractive than both parties' BATNA.

    Configuring a negotiation
    To configure or set up each new negotiation, Inspire has to be provided with a minimum of three pieces of information: the negotiation case to be used (protocol), and two user parties (i.e. users) who have completed the on-line registration. Currently the list of issues being negotiated must also be provided to the Inspire administrators before the negotiation begins. Thus a "configuration" is defined as the combination of participants and the issues that constitute a particular negotiation.

    Improving the joint outcome
    The joint outcome is the compromise that both parties settle upon after a series of offer exchanges. Inspire has a post-settlement stage, during which it uses the preference information provided by each user to determine whether it is possible to construct a new offer that is better than the joint outcome for at least one party, and equally good or better than the joint outcome for the other party; this analysis is known as "improving the joint outcome."

    Interpreting offer ratings
    The rating displayed on an offer is computed from the preference ratings you provided in the first part of your negotiation. Remember that your counterpart's rating of a package is unlikely to be the same as yours. Your counterpart never sees the ratings that you see on a package, since what he/she sees is based on his/her initial preference ratings.
    This means that the numerical difference between the ratings of two offers will not be the same as the difference in the ratings seen by your counterpart. For example, a revised offer which lowers the rating of your package by 10 points from your previous offer may only raise your counterpart's rating of that package by 3 points or may even lower your counterpart's rating.

    A topic of discussion that is of particular interest in a negotiation. Each issue has a range of alternatives or options, one of which must ultimately be agreed upon by the negotiators in order to achieve a compromise.

    A kind of trade-off between two or more decision makers: giving favours or making concessions on condition of receiving other favours.

    NegoDance Graph
    The exchange of offers and counter-offers can be seen only from one negotiator's perspective (as in the History of Offers graph) or, if both negotiators agree, from the perspective of both of them. One dimension presents ratings of one negotiator and the second dimension those of the second negotiator. With each offer, ratings of both negotiators are associated. Thus you may review the changes in the ratings (concessions) accepted by each negotiator.

    While the common meaning of the term "negotiation" is well known, a Web based system such as Inspire needs to give it a specific technical meaning because there are multiple users conducting multiple negotiations on possibly the same or different sets of issues in the system, via a common set of Web pages which may be visited in a different order each time. To keep things organized, each "negotiation" is uniquely identified by a negotiation instance, and defined as the complete sequence of interactions between Inspire and a particular pair of users (beginning with preference elicitation, continuing through offer exchange, reaching agreement, and ending with post-settlement analysis), on a particular set of issues. Thus, the same user may conduct more than one negotiation with the same set of issues by registering/using a different user name, but each instance will be different (e.g. the negotiation counterpart may not be the same).

    Negotiation name
    In combination with the user name, a negotiation name uniquely identifies an Inspire negotiation. A user can conduct multiple negotiations simultaneously on the system using different negotiation names. Unlike your user name, your negotiation name is not displayed by the system to your counterpart.

    A combination of options (a package) that is sent by one negotiator to the other. In Inspire, an offer consists of a package plus an optional message.

    One of the alternative values that an issue can take. For example, the issue "Tolerable product failure rate" may have the options "3%", "5%" and "10%".

    A particular combination of options that has been selected across all the issues. For example, the combination of Price, Payment and Failure rate (as seen below) is a package.

    Price 3000 $
    Payment Upon delivery
    Failure rate 5%

    This is the first phase of a negotiation. It refers to the initial period (prior to exchange of any offers) when one prepares for the negotiation. Some activities involved in this phase include problem definition, preference elicitation, and evaluation of alternative packages.


    A "settlement" is the same as an agreement or compromise, and "post-settlement" refers to the period after the first compromise has been achieved. (If your first compromise was not as good as Inspire thinks it possible for both sides to achieve, Inspire suggests that you continue into the post-settlement stage and try to improve your joint outcome.)


    Rating is the core activity of pre-negotiation phase. The purpose of rating is to use numerical expression to clarify a negotiator's preference and utility level of individual negotiation issue, option and package. In Inspire, the user is required to specify these three ratings according to personal preference and knowledge. The utility function of an individual negotiator is generated not only from the composition of the issue and option ratings but also from the decomposition of package evaluation. According to the utility function, any adjustment of the package evaluation may lead to variation of utility level of other packages.


    A trade-off is an exchange process in which a decision maker gives up partly on some issues so as to gain on other issues.

    User name

    This is a name used by Inspire for configuring a negotiation and identifying a "real user" for the system login. It will not be shown to your counterpart. Once a negotiation is configured, users will be assigned to different roles (i.e. party name) which will be displayed during the negotiation. In combination with the negotiation case, a user name uniquely identifies one of the two participants in a given Inspire negotiation. A user name is specific to a given negotiation instance. Thus, if one wants to negotiate using a different case or on the same case again, she/he has to register with a different user name.

    Utility function

    A utility function is a subjective measurement that expresses the relative value of different package by using a numerical scale. The numerical scale used is arbitrary. It typically ranges either from 0 to 1 or from 1 to 100. The minimum number expresses the least desirable and least preferred package. The highest number represents the most desirable and preferred package.