Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Labor Theory of Negotiation: From Integration to Value Creation


This article argues that Mary Parker Follett developed a socialist theory of negotiation in response to early twentieth century labor struggle (at least if socialism means the democratization of economic life). This defining feature of Follett’s work has been forgotten amongst negotiation scholars; indeed, it appears never to have been acknowledged, even as Follett remains an icon in the contemporary field. Prominent negotiation scholars have instead interpreted Follett’s idea of “integration” as an early effort to articulate what is in fact the very different contemporary concept of “value creation.” In so doing, they have reconceptualized the field with different understandings of labor, capitalism, and the common good than those Follett relied upon. Through a close reading of how prominent negotiation scholars have interpreted the meaning of integration—in the early, mid, and late twentieth century—the article broadly illustrates how political-economic transformations have influenced the ends and best practices of negotiation theory. It concludes with an approach to negotiation theory engaged with political-economic struggles of today.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View