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Business people shaking hands after meetingIn essence, normative leverage transforms the negotiation process from a transactional exchange to a collaborative partnership. By aligning values, understanding shared interests, and leveraging performance data, contract professionals can draft contracts that go beyond immediate financial gains, focusing instead on long-term success and sustainability.

Normative leverage is characterized by the skillful application of common standards, social norms, and shared interests. The skillful use of normative leverage empowers contract professionals to gain an advantage and safeguard their positions. Let’s delve into the intricacies of normative leverage and explore how it can shape the landscape of successful negotiations.

Normative Leverage Demystified

Normative leverage, at its core, is about framing an organization’s needs within shared principles and norms that resonate with both parties. This strategic framing taps into the ethical and social fabric that companies strive to embody. Corporate policies surrounding social responsibility, non-discrimination, or sustainable sourcing can serve as common ground, providing a foundation for negotiation that goes beyond mere transactional discussions. By integrating shared principles into the negotiation process, contract professionals initiate a dialogue about values and norms, laying the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Negotiating the Relationship Before the Transaction

Framing needs through normative leverage is not just about securing a deal; it’s about negotiating the relationship before delving into the transaction. This approach emphasizes the importance of aligning values and principles, fostering a foundation built on shared interests. The negotiation becomes a collaborative endeavor, with both parties striving to live by and uphold the same ethical and social standards. This sets the stage for a more meaningful and enduring partnership.

Leveraging Shared Interests into Performance

Understanding shared interests is a pivotal aspect of normative leverage. Contract negotiators can leverage these shared interests to drive performance and commitment. One powerful example involves the exchange of accurate performance data between the customer and the supplier over an extended period. This shared interest in transparency (in the form of performance data) becomes a two-way street in performance- and outcome-based relationships. Both parties must perform to meet the customer’s business objectives, creating a collaborative environment focused on mutual success.

The Power of Two-Sided Performance Data

Taking normative leverage to the next level involves integrating two-sided performance data into Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) or Total Lifecycle Cost (TLC) financial considerations. Combining normative leverage with financial analysis provides contract professionals with a more sophisticated and powerful form of leverage. By combining customer and supplier performance data into one scorecard, negotiators gain comprehensive insights into the dynamics of the partnership. This holistic approach enables the parties to address the customer’s business needs and objectives.


Mastering the strategic use of normative leverage is the key differentiator between a transaction and a transformative contractual relationship. In the ever-evolving landscape of business relationships, normative leverage emerges as a strategic tool that not only secures advantageous positions but also fosters enduring partnerships. As organizations strive to navigate the complexities of modern commerce, mastering the art of normative leverage becomes a crucial skill for those seeking to thrive in the world of negotiations.