James Sebenius, Vice Chair for Practice-Focused Research, PON Executive Committee

By — on / Executive Committee, PON Faculty

James Sebenius

Gordon Donaldson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Vice Chair for Practice-Focused Research, Program on Negotiation Executive Committee

Chair, Great Negotiator Award Committee

Director, Harvard Negotiation Project

Co-Director, American Secretaries of State Program

An authority on complex negotiations, James Sebenius has advanced the field in the academic realm, in the public and diplomatic sectors, and the business world; outside Harvard, he has worked full-time in the U.S. Commerce and State Departments as well as at the Blackstone Group.

At the Harvard Business School, Sebenius spearheaded the effort to make negotiation a required course in the M.B.A. program, and he created the negotiation department, which he led for several years. As a co-founder of Lax Sebenius LLC, he provides negotiation advisory services to corporations and governments worldwide.


B.A., Vanderbilt University

M.S., Stanford University

Ph.D., Harvard University

Research interests

Complex negotiations, 3D negotiation, dealing with hard bargainers, negotiation campaigns, cross-border dealmaking, diplomacy

Selected publications

  • With R. Nicholas Burns and Robert H. Mnookin (with a forward by Henry A. Kissinger). Kissinger the Negotiator: Lessons from Dealmaking at the Highest Level. New York: HarperCollins, 2018.
  • With David Lax. 3-D Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.
  • “Howard Raiffa: The Art, Science, and Humanity of a Legendary Negotiation Analyst.” Negotiation Journal 33, no. 4 (October 2017): 283–307.
  • With Michael K. Singh. “Is a Nuclear Deal with Iran Possible? An Analytical Framework for the Iran Nuclear Negotiations.” International Security 37, no. 3 (Winter 2012): 52–91.
  • “Level Two Negotiations: Helping the Other Side Meet Its ‘Behind-the-Table’ Challenges.” Negotiation Journal 29, no. 1 (January 2013): 7–21.
  • With David Lax. “Deal Making 2.0: A Guide to Complex Negotiations.” Harvard Business Review 90, no. 11 (November 2012): 92–100.
  • “Negotiation Analysis: Between Decisions and Games.” In Advances in Decision Analysis, edited by Ward Edwards, Ralph Miles, and Detlof von Winterfeldt, 469–488. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • With David Lax. The Manager as Negotiator: Bargaining for Cooperation and Competitive Gain. NY: Free Press, 1986.


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