Harvard Negotiation Project

As the predecessor entity of the Program on Negotiation (PON), the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP) was founded in 1979 and originally directed by Professor Roger Fisher, co-author of Getting to Yes. Folded into PON when PON was formed in 1983, HNP has operated since 2008 under the leadership of Professor James K. Sebenius. HNP’s special mission is practice-focused research, involvement in ongoing high-level deals and disputes, as well as education and training. Its members and affiliates are active in the creation and dissemination of innovative ideas to improve negotiation and conflict resolution. HNP’s work includes a variety of high-impact initiatives as described below.

James K. Sebenius

Deputy Directors
Sheila Heen
Daniel L. Shapiro

Distinguished Fellows
David Lax
Bruce Patton
William Ury

Senior Fellows
Bruce Allyn
Mark Gordon
Douglas Stone
Joshua Weiss

Senior Associate
Alex Green

The Harvard Negotiation Project conducts a wide range of research and educational activities:

I. General Practice-Focused Research Initiatives

  • Negotiating in the Age of Social Media.
    Directors: David Lax and Jim Sebenius. Affiliates: Ben Cook, Isaac Silberberg, Paul Levy, Ron Fortgang.
    This initiative highlights how social media can drive negotiations off the rails or toward profitable outcomes—and how savvy practitioners can harness this largely neglected factor to advantage.
  • Rebuild Congress Initiative.
    Director: Bruce Patton.
    This non-partisan initiative seeks to apply insights from theory and practice in negotiation, international mediation, and organizational transformation to improve the functioning of the United States Congress. The mission of this project is to help foster a strong and functional Congress that fulfills its Article One responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government.
  • Negotiation Roundtable.
    Directors: Jim Sebenius and David Lax.
    As the initiative in which “3D Negotiation” was developed, the Roundtable works to improve the analysis and practice of negotiation, especially in managerial settings.
  • HNP Workshop Teaching Network.
    Director: Sheila Heen.
    The HNP Workshop Teaching Network includes faculty members who have a passion for, and have demonstrated excellence in, interactive teaching and pedagogical design, and who continue to innovate and produce case studies, simulations, exercises, and classroom conversations that are rigorous, inclusive, and aimed at preparing students to tackle the most important systemic and other challenges of our time that call for effective negotiation, dispute resolution, and consensus building.
  • Music, Sports, and Entertainment Industry Negotiations.
    Director: James K. Sebenius
    This initiative studies prominent and important negotiations in the music, sports, and entertainment industries to determine best practices as well as common mistakes. Examples thus far include detailed interviews leading to case studies on music industry “super-lawyer” John Branca’s negotiations over the production of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, acquisition of the Beatles catalog, as well as the UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin’s negotiations surrounding attempts to form the European Super League for football (“soccer” in North America). Collaborating with colleagues in the music industry program at Occidental College as well as the Entertainment, Media, and Sports clubs at Harvard’s professional schools, this initiative explores the negotiation and conflict resolution aspects of this culturally and economically important industry.

II. International Negotiation Initiatives

  • Global Negotiation Initiative.
    Directors: William Ury and Joshua Weiss.
    This initiative bridges theoretical academic research with global negotiation work, focusing on such efforts as third-side engagement in conflict resolution and negotiation support in intractable conflicts.
  • Harvard International Negotiation Program.
    Director: Daniel L. Shapiro.
    This initiative researches the emotional and identity-based dimensions of conflict and polarization, develops practical tools for overcoming them, and spreads these methods to global leadership, grassroots organizations, and the public.
  • High Stakes Negotiation Support Initiative.
    Directors: Jim Sebenius and Daniel L. Shapiro.
    This broad initiative offers intellectual support to a wide range of ongoing, high-stakes negotiations, ranging from North Korea to Afghanistan, Venezuela to the Israeli-Palestinian context.
    • Colombia Negotiation Initiative and Peace Process Open Library.
      Directors: Jim Sebenius and Sergio Jaramillo.
      This initiative documents and draws practical lessons from the pathbreaking peace negotiations that led to an agreement in 2016 that promised to end a half-century of war between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla organization—and dramatically reduced violence in that war-torn country.
    • Russia Negotiation Initiative.
      Director: Bruce Allyn.
      This initiative develops innovative approaches to further U.S.-Russia dialogue and supports negotiation of concrete agreements that serve shared interests.
    • Korea Negotiation Initiative.
      Director: William Ury.
      This initiative explores obstacles to a negotiated resolution of the Korean nuclear crisis. Particular focus is placed on development of potential set-up moves that would make negotiation possible, investigation into potential areas for mutual gain, and creation of communication channels that can reduce the risk of inadvertent war.

  • Middle East Negotiation Initiatives.
    Director: Jim Sebenius. Senior Affiliate: Ihab Khatib. HNP Affiliate and Senior PON Fellow: Shula Gilad.
    Faculty affiliates and research fellows work closely with field practitioners to conduct research and scholarship on key topics related to Middle East peace negotiations.
    • Negotiation Strategies Institute.
      Academic Advisor and Sponsor: James K. Sebenius.
      HNP faculty and affiliates support the Negotiation Strategies Institute, a non-profit organization that invests in the human capital of leaders in the Middle East—including a diverse set of key figures from the region—with the purpose of supporting those who shape today’s decision-making processes in their pursuit of transforming conflict and promoting a better future for the region.
    • Abraham Path Initiative.
      Directors: William Ury Joshua Weiss. Academic Advisor and Sponsor: Jim Sebenius. Senior Affiliate: Jamil Mahuad.
      This initiative seeks to inspire, support, and study the development of a permanent cultural route of pilgrimage and tourism retracing the footsteps of Abraham in the Middle East.
    • Symbolic Dimensions of Negotiation in the Middle East.
      Director: Daniel L. Shapiro.
      This research project examines symbolic dimensions of high-stakes negotiations in the Middle East through theory-building and a unique, knowledge-generating collaboration with regional decision makers.

Currently Inactive Projects

  • Iran Nuclear Negotiation Project.
    Directors: Jim Sebenius and Graham Allison. Affiliate: Michael Singh.
    This project focused on negotiations toward nuclear arms control in Iran and launched an international working group of specialists who met frequently to discuss and produce reports and articles on this subject.
  • China Negotiation Initiative.
    Director: Jim Sebenius. Affiliate: Jason Cheng and Michael Singh.
    This initiative explored various dimensions of China-related negotiations, both public and private, and produced negotiation-focused cases, notes, and articles on the subject.

III. History of the Harvard Negotiation Project

  • Harvard Negotiation Project History. The Harvard Negotiation Project has made important contributions to the theory, practice, and teaching of negotiation.
  • Roger Fisher. Professor Fisher co-founded the Harvard Negotiation Project, produced seminal books and articles on negotiation, and has inspired generations of scholars and practitioners.
  • Howard Raiffa. Professor Raiffa is widely considered the “father of negotiation analysis” and has transformed the academic study of negotiation through his groundbreaking scholarship; he was a founding co-director of the Negotiation Roundtable, which is now part of the HNP family.