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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Lessons for Business Negotiators: Negotiation Techniques from International Diplomacy

Jeswald Salacuse   •  12/15/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking

business negotiators

Executives rarely view themselves as diplomats engaged in international diplomacy but business negotiators often find the two fields share negotiation skills and negotiation techniques. Rightly or wrongly, diplomacy evokes images of frivolity – days spent wandering exotic capitals, nights spent cruising embassy cocktail parties. … Learn More About This Program 

Renegotiation Lessons from the NAFTA Talks

PON Staff   •  12/08/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking


During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump blamed the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among Canada, Mexico, and the United States for the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and for lost American manufacturing jobs. Upon taking office, Trump said he was determined to either engage in renegotiation of NAFTA or walk away from the … Read Renegotiation Lessons from the NAFTA Talks 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Will Your First Offer Be in the Right Ballpark?

PON Staff   •  11/29/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking

first offer

The first offer in a negotiation often acts as an anchor upon which subsequent offers are generally based. Making the first offer can give you a strong starting point in a negotiation. As we’ll see, however, that opening number can also send a message about how much you value the other party’s involvement.

A recent question … Learn More About This Program 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Negotiating a Win Win Relationship with Friends

PON Staff   •  11/22/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking

win win relationship

Though we’re often advised against mixing friends and business, it’s not only inevitable at times; it can also be beneficial to everyone involved. The key is to negotiate in a way that ensures a win win relationship between parties, and in bigger business deals, that may include seeking outside help.

We connected with Guhan Subramanian, Joseph … Learn More About This Program 

Negotiation Logistics: Best Practices for Better Deals

PON Staff   •  11/10/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking

negotiation logistics

Negotiators are often so intent on preparing for the substance of a negotiation—researching the other party, analyzing their alternatives, and so on—that they neglect to devote adequate time to critical negotiation logistics, such as where to negotiate, how formal or informal talks should be, and even the shape of the negotiating table.

Before the official start … Learn More About This Program 

Dear Negotiation Coach: How Should I Handle an Early Offer Negotiation?

PON Staff   •  11/08/2022   •  Filed in Dealmaking

offer negotiation

In a hot real estate market, sellers may find themselves determining the best way to engage in an early offer negotiation. We asked Leslie John, the Marvin Bower Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, to answer a question regarding this topic.

Q: I’m selling my house in a seller’s market. As is the … Learn More About This Program 

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