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Encyclopedia of Networked and Virtual Or... > Negotiation Support Systems and Team... - Pg. 1001

1001 Negotiation Support Systems and Teams in VO Xiaojia Guo National University of Singapore, Singapore John Lim National University of Singapore, Singapore N IntroductIon Virtual organizations (VO) have become a reality in response to the rapidly changing demands of today's business environment characterized by globalization and market competitiveness. VO have often been considered a subset of the much older research area of networked organizations. There are almost as many definitions of VO as there are researchers. However, we find Bultje and van Vijk's (1998) definition to be encompassing, which highlights the business orienta- tion of VO. According to them, a virtual organization is primarily a network of independent, geographi- cally dispersed organizations with a partial mission overlap, within which all partners provide their own core competencies to deliver innovative and strongly customer-based products and services. VO usually possess an internal structure of virtual teams that band and disband according to specific goals or needs (Grenier & Metes, 1995). The virtual teams are engaged in various tasks, among which negotiation is a major category especially in light of the temporary structure of most VO. As a matter of fact, the forma- tion of VO is through numerous negotiations because the organization materializes by selecting skills and assets from different firms and synthesizing them temporarily into a single functional business entity to respond to business opportunities (Camarinha-Matos & Afsarmanesh, 1999). The implications of VO for communication are prominent. Electronic communication is becoming the norm for all sorts of organizational tasks, includ- ing negotiations. Moreover, negotiations have been described as complex, ill-structured and evolving tasks requiring sophisticated decision support (Bui et al., 1992). Negotiation support systems (NSS) have thus been materialized and constitute a special class of group support systems catered towards bargaining, consensus seeking and conflict resolution (Bui et al., 1992). NSS are designed to assist negotiating parties in reaching mutually satisfactory decisions by supporting information analysis and communication protocols. NSS have been mostly studied in dyadic interpersonal setting, which spurs separate investigation on team negotiations. Team negotiations describe situations in which two or more co-negotiators sharing interests and priori- ties negotiate with two or more co-negotiators on the other side who share their own interests and priorities (Shapiro & Von Glinow, 1999). Team negotiations are considered a more complicated subject matter than interpersonal bargaining, and warrant separate treat- ment (Lim & Benbasat, 1993). In a negotiating team consisting of three or more members, there exists a possibility of coalition formation. Coalition formation is conceivably detrimental to the negotiation process in that it leads to lower cohesion of negotiating team, compromised negotiation performance and in turn lower level of team members' satisfaction. VO are often multicultural. Although transferring of policies and cultures has been emphasized, different styles of communication shaped by different cultures are inevitable. It is suggested that firms with differ- ent levels of cultural diversity experience dissimilar dynamics and organizational outcomes. In this article, we investigate the role of NSS in preventing coalition formation and mitigating its negative consequences in team negotiations. Cultural diversity is also examined as a major antecedent to the formation of coalitions. Background This section provides an overview of the conceptual background for coalition formation, cultural diversity and negotiation support systems. Copyright © 2008, IGI Global, distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.