Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Managerial Sciences

First Advisor

Edward Miles

Second Advisor

Leigh Anne Liu

Third Advisor

Todd Maurer

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Lambert


Since the publication of Albert Carr’s controversial article from 1968, “Is Business Bluffing Ethical?” there has been a flurry of interest, both from researchers and practitioners, into the use of deception in negotiation. Far from being a hypothetical question, the use of deception in negotiation has been shown to be a common negotiation tactic. Aquino and Becker (2005) suggest that deception occurs in 55% of negotiations. Deception has been used in negotiation contexts as wide-ranging as supply chain management, contracts, use car sales, mergers and acquisitions, and trade agreements between sovereign nations.

Scholarly research has thus far established two streams of research to explain when deception is likely to occur. The first line of inquiry claims that negotiator characteristics are the proximal cause of unethical behavior, such as deception. Such authors point to personality characteristics, tendencies, and traits that are unique to the individuals who use deception. This group of scholars point to evidence that certain individuals, regardless of the situation, rely on deception to achieve their goals. A second line of research has emerged that claims that the predominant factor is the negotiation situation. Thus, departing from an individual characteristics angle, these authors have argued that certain negotiations, such as when the stakes are high or when one negotiator is far more powerful than the other, present dynamics in which deception is more likely to take place. When considered together, these two research streams give a rich account of deception in negotiation.

However, in this series of three essays, I argue that a third, equally valid perspective ought to be explored: the role of a counterpart’s reputation. I explain that the characteristics of one’s negotiation counterpart could be important factors in explaining why someone might resort to deception. I argue that the most relevant characteristic is that of a negative or bad reputation. To make these theoretical contributions, I draw on equity theory and prisoner’s dilemma. I argue that a negative reputation will lead a negotiator to believe that his or her counterpart might act in a deceptive manner and that to restore this inequity, the negotiator might be more likely to use deception. Further, I argue for important mediators and moderators in this process.

The first essay is a theoretical exploration of the relationship between a counterpart’s reputation, the use of deception and negotiation outcomes. I look at the role that deception plays in negotiation and how the threat of a counterpart’s use of deception might impact how a negotiator thinks of deception. In this paper, I develop propositions that will be tested empirically in the second and third essay. One of the main contributions of the theoretical piece is the movement away from the two current theories that belie the current deception literature, negotiator characteristics and negotiation situation. In this essay, I draw on equity theory to suggest that the drive to make a negotiation equitable might best explain the phenomena. Further, I lay the theoretical foundation for propositions that recommend that deception might lead to positive distributive outcomes but negative integrative outcomes.

The second essay looks specifically at a model that tests the relationship between counterpart reputation and the use of deception. In this essay, I develop a moderated mediation model, in which counterpart reputation leads to the assessment of unfairness and that this assessment leads to the use of deception. In my model, the relationship between counterpart reputation and negotiator use of deception is moderated by prosocial motivation, negotiation self-efficacy, Machiavellianism, and Schwartz values. I report two different studies to test this model.

The third essay hones in on the relationship between principal use of deception and negotiation outcomes. I use leakage theory, which suggests that some who use deception inadvertently “leak” clues to the fact that they are acting deceptively, as a basis to look at the relationship between the constructs. I argue that political skill and emotional intelligence are key moderators of this process. I use a negotiation experiment to test this model.

This three-essay dissertation achieves the goal of exploring a very important aspect of deception in negotiation. As it stands, this gap in the literature presents a picture of deception that is potentially missing an entire branch of causality: the role of the counterpart in a negotiator’s use of deception. This project will hopefully spur new research and interest into understanding, more broadly, how a counterpart impacts ethical or unethical decision making in negotiation. For practitioners, these studies might be able to illustrate that the use of deception is not only about the one who deceives. Rather, a negotiator must also understand how other people might illicit behavior from the negotiator, both behaviors that are honest and deceptive. In addition, the practitioner might be in a better position to understand how his or her own reputation might impact a counterpart’s use of deception.