A bargaining impasse occurs when the two sides negotiating an agreement are unable to reach an agreement and become deadlocked. An impasse is almost invariably mutually harmful, either as a result of direct action which may be taken such as a strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 in employment negotiation or sanctions/military action in international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

, or simply due to the resulting delay in negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement.

Some theorists contend that impasses are used by negotiating parties in situations of imperfect information as a method of signalling to the other side the seriousness of their position. Impasse provides a credible signal that a party’s position is genuine and not merely an ambit claim
Ambit claim
In negotiation, an ambit claim is an extravagant initial demand made in expectation of an eventual counter-offer and compromise. In labor union negotiations, this is called a Blue Sky demand....


Impasse may also arise if parties suffer from self-serving bias
Self-serving bias
A self-serving bias occurs when people attribute their successes to internal or personal factors but attribute their failures to situational factors beyond their control. The self-serving bias can be seen in the common human tendency to take credit for success but to deny responsibility for failure...

. Most disputes arise in situations where facts are able to be interpreted in multiple ways, and if parties interpret the facts to their own benefit they may be unable to accept the opposing party’s claim as reasonable. They may believe the other side is either bluffing or acting unfairly and deserve to be "punished".

As bargaining impasse is mutually harmful, it may be beneficial for the parties to accept binding arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

 or mediation
Mediation, as used in law, is a form of alternative dispute resolution , a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. A third party, the mediator, assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement...

 to settle their dispute, or the state may impose such a solution. Indeed, compulsory arbitration following impasse is a common feature of industrial relations law in the United States and elsewhere.

The word impasse may also refer to any situation in which no progress can be made. A stalemate
Stalemate is a situation in chess where the player whose turn it is to move is not in check but has no legal moves. A stalemate ends the game in a draw. Stalemate is covered in the rules of chess....

 in chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

is a common example.
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