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OBHR 4P65: Negotiating in Organizations

A Library Guide to researching a real-world negotiation, citing sources, and getting help.

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary versus secondary sources in negotiation research

Primary sources:

  • what an organization (or industry) says about itself via: annual reports, presentations, press releases, organizational blogs, tweets, speeches, etc.
  • In Service Learning projects, these sources may be provided by your client organization.

Secondary sources:

  • what others say about an organization (or industry) via: newspaper or magazine articles, books, or other media sources (e.g., television or radio transcripts,  social media sites,etc.).

How do these sources support your negotiation analysis?

  • Provide background information on the organization
  • Identify key stakeholders
  • Provide details on the macro environment
  • Provide details on the operating/industry environment
  • Provide context for the specific negotiating situation
  • Provide real data (i.e., facts and statistics)

Finding Primary Sources

Identify primary source material on the parties to the negotiation (individuals or organizations)

Primary sources are sources created by an organization. Most organizations have some kind of a web presence - some individuals do as well. Use a variety of search engines to identify organizational or personal web sites, blogs, etc. Keep in mind that most organizations will have a 'public' web site and a 'private' web site (such as a password-protected intranet or internal web site) so you may or may not be able to find out much this way.

What kind of documents are you after? You want to think like an investigative journalist in order to answer the 5Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why), as well as How, as it relates to your organization.

  • Look for a description of the organization's mandate, structure (e.g., organization charts, lists of key officers or executives) and performance. These are usually listed under an "about us" link.
  • Look for press releases or official statements (e.g., written documents, audio recordings, podcasts, videos, or transcribed speeches). These are usually listed under a "news" or "for the media" link.
  • Look for a Human Resources or Careers section for information for prospective employees. This is also a good place to find organizational policies and copies of labor contracts (collective agreements).
  • Look for annual reports or other regulator documents relevant to your organization. All publicly-traded corporations, as well as provincially and federally regulated organizations must be accountable in some way. These are usually listed in the  "investor relations" section on corporate web sites. Submissions to regulatory bodies should also be online (check on the websites of the organization as well as the regulatory body).


Finding Secondary Sources

Identify secondary source materials on organizations, individuals, or topics.

  • This could take the form of newspaper, magazine, or journal articles, or interview transcripts (e.g., from radio, television, or other broadcast media). 
  • To find information about a person or organization, you can search by personal or organizational name .
  • To find information about a topic or issue of interest, search by keyword or subject.
  • To find information written by an individual, search by Author.

Where can you find these sources? Try the following Brock University Library Databases: