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.

Dealmaking: Bank of America’s Game of Chicken

PON Staff   •  09/24/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

What’s the difference between an effective bluff and an ineffective one? Last year’s financial meltdown offered an example of each. In last month’s issue, we described how a bluff by then–U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson scared off potential buyers for failing investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008. After Paulson told Wall Street CEOs that … Read More 

To harness your power, consider a coalition

PON Staff   •  09/14/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

On June 27, members of the so-called Gang of Eight took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to make their final arguments for the sweeping immigration bill they had negotiated and promoted for months. After Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida finished his remarks, the other members of his coalition flocked to him, patting … Read More 

For Bank of America, Dealmaking to Turn the Page

Katie Shonk   •  09/03/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Negotiation often marks a new beginning: of a partnership, a project, or employment relationship. At other times, the goal of dealmaking is as much about reaching an ending as it is about moving forward.

That’s the attitude with which Bank of America wrapped up its settlement negotiations with the Department of Justice (DOJ) last month. For … Read More 

In Career Dealmaking, Strike the Right Balance

Katie Shonk   •  07/15/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Two stories emerged in the news this month that illustrate polar opposite attitudes toward negotiating salary and benefits in the workplace.

First, a New York Times profile revealed that Ira Glass, the creator and host of the popular radio show “This American Life,” is highly uncomfortable earning a high salary. In recent years, Glass earned … Read More 

Book Notes: Make the most of feedback in your negotiations

PON Staff   •  06/15/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

It’s time to negotiate a promotion, but whether you meet that goal will depend on how your latest performance evaluation unfolds. You’re trying to improve your relationship, but you don’t like the advice you’re getting from your therapist. Your newest client seems satisfied overall, but he finds something trivial to criticize whenever the two of … Read More 

Pull Ahead of the Pack with a “Negotiauction”

PON Staff   •  06/11/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Robert Barnett, a corporate attorney based in Washington, D.C., moonlights as a book agent for celebrity politicians—including Barack Obama, Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. New York editors line up to sign Barnett’s clients and, they hope, rake in blockbuster profits.
Barnett’s technique is to introduce his latest superstar to the major publishing houses and … Read More 

Deal Making: When You Hold All the Cards

PON Staff   •  04/16/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Consider the following hypothetical negotiation scenarios, in which you seem to hold all the cards:

– One of your customers has just landed a lucrative new contract, and you’re the only supplier who can add a critical component to that customer’s production process.

– You own a controlling interest in a publicly traded company and are seeking … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach Dealmaking after handshaking

PON Staff   •  04/15/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

Q: I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of nonverbal behavior in negotiation. Shaking hands seems like such a natural way to begin a negotiation, but does it signal too much eagerness to reach agreement?
A: In 2013, U.S. president Barack Obama and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani planned a historic encounter at the United Nations General … Read More 

Bringing Congress back to the negotiating table

PON Staff   •  04/15/2014   •  Filed in Dealmaking

“I’ve always had a Republican partner, every time,” says former Democratic senator Chris Dodd, speaking of his legislative victories during his 30 years of service.

Members of Congress do not always need bipartisan support to push through their legislative agendas, yet some of the most significant initiatives passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives … Read More