Research: In Supplier Negotiations, Lying Is Contagious

Being deceptive — or not totally honest — in negotiations is fairly common. But two experiments found that it can have a harmful effect: It can spread in an organization. This article discusses the research findings and offers measures that can curb the practice of potentially contagious excessive deception.

Imagine you’re trying to strike a deal with a supplier or you are a supplier trying to strike a deal with a potential customer and the other company’s negotiator lies to you. Do you A) respond with honesty or B) lie right back?

Choice A is for the white knights among us who strictly follow Kant’s categorical imperative of acting the way how you would want others to act. However, many people opt for the “tit for tat” behavior and choose Option B: They lie back.

But as our research — published in the Journal of Operations Management — found, there is a dark side to doing so. Lying once can be contagious. It can pave the way for lying…

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This article was written by Leopold Ried and originally published on