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Because they make it easier for people, corporations, and governments to trade products, services, and resources, market transactions play a crucial role in our economic systems. However, a complicated network of agreements and power relations lurks under the surface of these ostensibly easy transactions. We will examine how power disparities might affect the results of these exchanges as we investigate the idea that market transactions are negotiations of power. I will illustrate numerous occasions when bargained power influences market transactions using simple examples.

Negotiated Power in Market Transactions

Two or more parties come together to exchange products, services, or resources in a market transaction. Even if these deals seem to be the result of mutually advantageous arrangements, the truth is sometimes more complicated. Between the parties, there may be power imbalances that impact negotiations and, eventually, the results of the transaction.

Labour markets provide one illustration of negotiated power in market exchanges. Due to their influence over employment prospects and resources, employers often have a greater degree of power in interactions with their employees. Employers can demand parameters like pay and working conditions due to this power imbalance, while employees may have little negotiating ability. As a result, the strength of each party’s negotiation position has a significant impact on the transaction’s outcome, with employers frequently benefiting from lower salaries and advantageous conditions.

The interactions between suppliers and buyers provide another example of bargained power. There are strong businesses with substantial market power in several industries, allowing them to impose conditions on smaller suppliers. Large merchants, for example, have the power to put pressure on suppliers to reduce costs or provide enticing credit terms. The suppliers, who frequently have smaller profit margins and fewer options, can be forced to abide by these requirements to preserve their business connections. Therefore, the parameters of the deal are influenced by bargaining power, benefitting the more powerful side.

International commerce is another instance of how negotiated power appears. With their sophisticated economies and abundant resources, developed countries frequently occupy a privileged position in international trade discussions. These nations have the power to apply tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions to safeguard their industries and restrict emerging countries’ access to global markets. Negotiations between strong and weak nations might therefore result in trade accords that favour the stronger side at the expense of the weaker one (Allen, Clark, & Houde, 2019).

Market transactions are more sophisticated interactions impacted by power dynamics than simple trades. The results of these agreements are shaped by negotiated power, frequently benefitting the side with more negotiating strength. Power imbalances may lead to unfair agreements, with the weaker side suffering disadvantages, whether they occur in labour markets, supplier-buyer partnerships, or international trade.

Understanding the larger consequences of economic exchanges depends on understanding the function of negotiated power in market transactions. It emphasizes the requirement for laws and rules that deal with disparities in power and encourage fair discussions. Market exchanges can function as a strategy for promoting sustainable economic growth and lowering inequality by assuring a more fair allocation of power.


Market talks are impacted by power relations and involve more than simply the exchange of goods and services. We may learn more about the complexity and disparities of our economic systems by looking at several examples where negotiated power affects market transactions. Recognizing the importance of negotiated power is crucial for promoting inclusive and fair marketplaces that benefit all stakeholders.


Allen, J., Clark, R., & Houde, J. F. (2019). Search frictions and market power in negotiated-price markets. Journal of Political Economy, 127(4), 1550-1598.

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