Growing the Pie

Aug 11, 2022

In negotiations, there's a distinction between distributive and integrative bargaining.

Distributive bargaining is a zero-sum negotiation where fixed resources are allocated between parties.

Integrative bargaining is where multiple interests are negotiated at the same time and deals are structured to create value through creative solutions.

Not every negotiation is open to integrative bargaining. For example, in car buying negotiations, the buyer wants to pay as little as possible, the seller wants to charge as much as possible, and it's often not a repeated transaction. But some are.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he was tasked with convincing Bill Gates to continue to support the Macintosh with new versions of Microsoft Office for Mac. A struggling Apple needed assurance from Microsoft of continued application support (and cash), and Microsoft wanted to settle longstanding patent litigation.

Negotiations between Microsoft and Apple's previous CEO, Gil Amelio, had stalled. Jobs tried a different approach.

“It was classic,” remembers Gates. “I’d been negotiating this deal with Amelio, and Gil wanted six things, most of which were not important. Gil was complicated, and I’d be calling him on the phone, faxing him stuff over the holidays. And then when Steve comes in, he looks at the deal and says, ‘Here are the two things I want, and here’s what you clearly want from us.’ And we had that deal done very quickly.” – Becoming Steve Jobs

Microsoft agreed to a public display of partnership – Gates appeared on video at an Apple conference to announce a $150 million investment into Apple and a five-year commitment to Office for Mac.