10 Notable Negotiations

Taking a look back at the highs and lows of notable negotiations

By on / Business Negotiations

negotiations

Over the last few years, political dealmaking and corporate mergers have taken center stage. In this post, we look back at the highs and lots of some of the most notable of these negotiations, which offer significant lessons to professional negotiators.

  1. The budget impasse in Illinois. In the summer of 2016, Illinois became the only U.S. state in the past 80 years to go an entire year without a full operating budget. It reached that dubious milestone thanks to an epic negotiation impasse between its Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, and Democratic-controlled state legislature. The story of the destructive stalemate suggests lessons to negotiators hoping to avoid impasse. Continue reading about these negotiations.

Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a copy of the FREE special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


  1. The debates behind the debates. There is “nothing worse than a debate about debates,” John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said in the midst of his candidate’s heated negotiations with Democratic rival Bernie Sanders about the terms of their debates. Those who followed negotiations behind both the Democratic and Republican debates likely would agree with Podesta’s statement, but still can gain valuable tips on coalition building, threats, and emotions. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. New salary negotiation laws. A new law was passed in Massachusetts to prevent employers from asking prospective workers to provide their salary history. The law, which won’t take effect until 2018,  allows employees to discuss their salaries with their colleagues without facing retribution from their employers, as reported by the Associated Press. Like similar laws recently passed in California and Maryland, the measure marks a step toward more equitable and rational job negotiationsContinue reading about these negotiations.
  1. Sanders negotiates for a progressive platform. In the lead-up to the Democratic National Convention, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders used the Clinton campaign’s fear of a divisive spectacle to extract concessions on the party’s official platform and committee assignments. The senator’s tough dealmaking reminds us the importance of assessing your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA, and the zone of possible agreement, or ZOPA, in any negotiation. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. The Abbott-Alere deal sours. Health-care company Abbott Laboratories announced it was buying diagnostic-device provider Alere for $56 per share, or about $5.8 billion. The two parties hailed the deal as a breakthrough at the time. But within months, Abbott began trying to bow out of the agreement, saying it was concerned about an investigation into Alere’s overseas business practices. The dispute highlights the need to carefully examine the cons as well as the pros before agreeing to a deal. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. The Kigali deal on HFCs. In this example, negotiators from over 170 countries reached a legally binding accord to combat climate change by reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a chemical coolant used in air conditioners and refrigerators. Experts say the outcome of the multiparty negotiation—held in Kigali, Rwanda—could be even more effective at combatting global warming than the higher-profile global climate change agreement reached in Paris in 2015. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. The AT&T-Time Warner merger. “A huge mistake.” “A shot in the dark.” “An audacious move.” Those are a few of the media’s characterizations of wireless carrier AT&T’s acquisition of media and entertainment firm Time Warner for $85.4 billion. Given the volatility in the media and communications industries, most observers consider the long-term success of the AT&T–Time Warner merger to be highly uncertain.  Continue reading about these negotiations. 
  1. The FBI’s standoff with Oregon occupiers. An armed group of protestors took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon, demanding that the U.S. government cede ownership of the land to locals and release two Oregon ranchers recently re-imprisoned for burning federal property. The U.S. government eventually negotiated an end to the standoff by recruiting mediators who were highly trusted by the occupiers. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. The Iran prisoner swap and blowback. When Iran released four imprisoned Americans, the Obama administration airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran. The State Department revealed it had delayed making the scheduled payment—part of a settlement related to a failed 1979 arms deal with Iran—for several hours to ensure that Iran released the imprisoned Americans. The news fanned Republicans’ charges that the Obama administration had paid ransom for the hostages. Continue reading about these negotiations.
  1. The UK’s failed Brexit negotiations with the EU. Over the course of several years, David Cameron, as prime minister of the United Kingdom, tried to convince members of his own political party in negotiations and then the British public of the merits of remaining in the European Union. The decision of a narrow majority of voters for Britain to exit the EU created turmoil in the global financial markets and left the British confronting an unpredictable future.  Continue reading about these negotiations.

Are there any notable negotiations that we may have missed? Share your favorites with us in the comments.


Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a copy of the FREE special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


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