What Is Sequential Bargaining in Game Theory?


Vincent White

In game theory, sequential bargaining is a process in which two parties engage in negotiations to reach an agreement. It is a strategic interaction where each party’s decision affects the outcome of the negotiation.

How Does Sequential Bargaining Work?

The process of sequential bargaining involves two players who take turns making offers. The player who makes the first offer is called the proposer, and the other player is called the responder. The responder can either accept or reject the offer made by the proposer.

Stages of Sequential Bargaining

The negotiation process in sequential bargaining can be divided into different stages:

  • Opening stage: In this stage, the proposer makes an initial offer to the responder.
  • Counteroffer stage: If the responder rejects the initial offer, they can make a counteroffer to the proposer.
  • Final stage: If both parties agree on an offer, they reach a final agreement and end negotiations.

The Importance of Strategic Thinking

Sequential bargaining requires strategic thinking from both parties. The proposer needs to make an initial offer that is attractive enough for the responder to accept but not so generous that it leaves too much on the table. The responder needs to decide whether to accept or reject an offer based on their own preferences and expectations about future negotiations.

The Role of Power in Sequential Bargaining

Power dynamics play a significant role in sequential bargaining. The player with more power has more leverage in negotiations and can dictate terms more favorable to them. However, power can shift during negotiations as each party gains or loses leverage.


Sequential bargaining is a complex process that requires strategic thinking and careful consideration of each party’s preferences and expectations. By understanding the stages of sequential bargaining and the role of power dynamics, negotiators can increase their chances of reaching a favorable outcome.