Dealmaking is defined as the art of crafting deals through negotiations focused on an integrative, or value-creating process, rather than through distributive bargaining, or a haggling process. Dealmaking includes the range of activities both at the bargaining table and away from it that seek to bring two or more parties together toward some common end, whether it is the sale of an asset, a vendor agreement, or a merger between corporations. The Program on Negotiation emphasizes integrative bargaining in its dealmaking literature and teaches methods and techniques from this school of thought in its executive education courses.

In corporate dealmaking, much of the action happens away from the negotiating table. Successful dealmakers understand that deal set-up and design greatly influence negotiation outcomes and successfully closing a deal. Other critical factors in successfully making deals include strategic behavior – the unwillingness of one or both sides to make a best offer – psychological factors, lack of a deadline, poorly-prepared formal documents and refusal to allow the other side to make a graceful exit, even when they’ve agreed to your demands.

Strategies for successful dealmaking include tactics such as creating more value by exploring hidden interests and adding issues that appeal to your bargaining opponent. Another tactic is recruiting a third party mediator when the dealmaking process is at an impasse. Sometimes, Harvard experts find, it pays to be the first person to make an offer, while at other times, it pays to wait.

Articles from the Program on Negotiation focus on a vast array of dealmaking strategies, and explore the latest concepts such as expanding the pie, “negotiauctions,” anchors in negotiation and bartering.

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In Purchasing Negotiations, Pairs of Men Lean to the Extreme

PON Staff   •  10/07/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

When we make decisions about what to buy, we often do so with another person. Domestic partners make joint purchasing decisions about homes, appliances, cars, and vacations. Pairs of college students often decide together what apartment to rent. Two investment bankers might select stocks together. And when two friends plan a night out, they might … Read More 

How to Avoid Faulty Negotiated Agreements

PON Staff   •  10/06/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Some of the trickier aspects of designing the right contract with your agent include properly aligning her incentives and monitoring her work. Supervising your agent can be especially hard when she knows more than you do about the area of work. For example, hiring an agent who is a lawyer and paying her on an … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Starting Off on the Right Foot

PON Staff   •  09/09/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking


I’m trying to decide whether to make the first offer in a price negotiation. I’ve heard arguments in favor of both points of view—that is, going first versus sitting back and waiting for the other side to go first. Which tends to be the more effective strategy?


Negotiation is often a balancing act between learning about … Read More 

Are You in It to Win It?

PON Staff   •  04/08/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

For the New York Mets, a deal with outfielder Yoenis Céspedes is all in the timing

Just because a deal isn’t working out in the present doesn’t mean it never will. That’s the key takeaway from a recent contract agreement reached between the New York Mets and star outfielder Yoenis Céspedes this past January.

A temporary impasse

Céspedes, … Read More 

A Bidding War at Sundance

PON Staff   •  04/08/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Filmmaker Nate Parker sticks to his dreams in a heated “negotiauction.”

Most sellers dream about driving up the price of a commodity in a bidding war. But how can you stay true to your nonfinancial goals in an auction fixated on price? Nate Parker, the filmmaker, star, and producer behind the film The Birth of a … Read More 

New Strategies for Your Multiparty Negotiation Toolkit

PON Staff   •  03/15/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

“Confessionals.” “Informal informals.” “Indabas.” Delegates from the 196 nations participating in the U.N. Climate Change Conference, held in Paris at the end of 2015, cycled through an eclectic variety of negotiating formats in their race to make binding commitments to lower greenhouse-gas emissions. According to media reports, the participants’ willingness to shake up the complex … Read More 

Learning from the Debates About the Debates

Katie Shonk   •  03/03/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

There is “nothing worse than a debate about debates,” John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, recently said in the midst of his candidate’s heated negotiations with Democratic rival Bernie Sanders about the terms of their debates.

Many who participated in these negotiations would likely agree. But the debates about debates—both on the … Read More 

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