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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Negotiation in the News: Breaking dysfunctional patterns – The surprisingly cooperative U.S. budget deal

PON Staff   •  01/08/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking


In negotiations with longtime counterparts, it can be difficult to overcome entrenched bad habits and past resentments. That certainly has been the case for negotiations between the U.S. Congress and the White House in recent years, which have been marked by name-calling, missed deadlines, and public ridicule. But thanks to a variety of pressures and … Read More 

To Reduce Post-Deal Regret, Take an Analytical Approach

PON Staff   •  12/09/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Dissatisfied with her first book contract, comedian Amy Schumer canceled it and negotiated a different one.
A better strategy? Lessen your odds of disappointment from the start.

In 2012, David Hirshey, senior vice president and executive editor of publisher HarperCollins, saw Amy Schumer’s stand-up comedy act and was so impressed by the rising star that he offered … Read More 

Try a Game-Changing Move in Your Next “Negotiauction”

PON Staff   •  11/04/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Increasingly in the business world, negotiators must compete not only with their counterpart across the table but also with others fighting for the same deal. A procurement officer may announce to a longtime supplier that she is putting their contract up for an auction for the first time, for example. Or competitors bidding for a … Read More 

Working on multiple deals? Look for ways to connect the dots

PON Staff   •  09/09/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

In negotiation, lightbulb moments—the kind that seem to magically dissolve disputes and create stellar contracts—can be few and far between. We might be lucky to have one such flash of insight over the course of a complicated dealmaking process. Recently, Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) New York Yankees were fortunate to experience a breakthrough that neatly … Read More 

In negotiations with rookies, the NFL takes control

PON Staff   •  08/05/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

At one point or another, most of us have found ourselves in the midst of a chaotic negotiation process—one that takes much longer than hoped for, creates a great deal of stress, and squanders resources.

Now imagine having to face multiple such negotiations annually. For many years, that’s the situation National Football League (NFL) teams were … Read More 

Negotiation logistics: Best practices for better deals

PON Staff   •  08/05/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Before the official start of the Group of 7 (G-7) economic conference in Krün, Germany, this June, U.S. president Barack Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel took time to tour a historic village and bond over beer and sausages. At the end of their friendly stroll, Obama jokingly asked Merkel whether the G-7 talks might … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Expertise Can Blind Us

PON Staff   •  07/06/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

I have been in the real estate business for many years and have closed many successful deals. Over the past year, I have been involved in a negotiation over the sale of a piece of land. It’s hard for me to believe we have made so little progress. This is an important deal in the … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Negotiations Stalled Over Price

PON Staff   •  02/12/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

I am trying to buy a smaller company in my industry, but the negotiations have stalled over price.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear the seller thinks his company is worth a lot more than I think it is. So far we have been talking about doing a straight cash deal, but now I’m contemplating … Read More 

Deal Negotiation and Dealmaking: What to Do On Your Own

PON Staff   •  02/09/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Six negotiation skills tips for negotiators seeking to creative value during their next round at the bargaining table. Business negotiators are often faced with the complex task of coordinating multiple parties – here are some tips for the individual business negotiator on how to achieve success in her next deal negotiation. … Read More 

In Dealmaking, Look for the Needle in the Haystack

Katie Shonk   •  01/26/2015   •  Filed in Dealmaking

When you’re desperate to make a good deal, breakthroughs can come at unexpected times and places. Consider what happened when Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Elias was looking through a sheaf of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. documents while taking care of his newborn son in 2012. At the time, directed by President Barack Obama, the … Read More 

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