Interest-Based Bargaining replaces a confrontational, adversarial approach with a collaborative approach to bargaining. Rather than a test of wills or power, IBB turns collective bargaining into a joint project to be achieved. On the one hand, IBB simply extends and institutionalizes practices followed by experienced traditional negotiators by carefully examining both parties needs, listening to each other, trying to satisfy needs, creating possible solutions, and working toward a resolution. On the other hand, IBB emphasizes concepts such as discussion of “issues” as opposed to “position” or “demands”. The disclosure of real needs or interests and exchange of bargaining information by having open discussions and the participation by all in the creation of possible solutions often result in resolution by consensus.
The main idea is to open the process. Broader “issues” can be discussed because “positions” or “demands” tend to inhibit discussion and limit the number of possible solutions. Interests or real needs are revealed and discussed to understand the problem so that solutions can be explored which meet those needs. Information is openly shared for all to assess the situation. All the participants brainstorm possible solutions as one group to find new and better solutions. The best solutions are adopted by consensus to build a solid agreement that can be supported by all. As a result, better collective bargaining agreements are achieved which are more acceptable to all and ongoing collaborative relationships are built.
IBB does work; however, there will be times when the participants may transition back to traditional, distributive bargaining usually on the hard economic issues. Remember, IBB is a method of bargaining.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation provides training for those who desire to enter into IBB and the Bureau will also provide mediators to serve as facilitators for the process.