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.

New Negotiation Tactics for Your Multiparty Negotiation Toolkit

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

negotiation tactics

“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 

In The Simpsons Dealmaking, Harry Shearer Goes Public

Katie Shonk   •  01/21/2016   •  Filed in Dealmaking

How did actor Henry Shearer and the producers of the hit television show The Simpsons arrive at a win-win negotiated agreement? In this article drawn from examples of negotiation in real life, we examine the negotiations between the actor and the producers and offer insights into the bargaining strategies employed by each. … Read More 

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 

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