Michael Wheeler

Michael WheelerMichael Wheeler is the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School where he teaches negotiation and a variety of executive courses. In recent years he has served as faculty chair of the first year MBA program. He has also taught The Moral Leader; Leadership, Values, & Decision Making; and, as a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Law School, Mediation & Consensus Building.

Wheeler’s current research focuses on negotiation dynamics, dispute resolution, organizational design, and ethics.

Wheeler is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World (Simon & Schuster), What’s Fair? Ethics for Negotiators (with Carrie Menkel-Meadow), Business Fundamentals in Negotiation, and On Teaching Negotiation. His text Environmental Dispute Resolution (with Lawrence Bacow) won the CPR-ADR’s annual award as the best book on negotiation. He has written numerous articles in scholarly journals (among them, the Yale Journal of Regulation, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, and The Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies) and the public press, including The Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times.

He has written scores of negotiation exercises, cases, notes, and self-assessment tools. These materials cover subjects ranging from nonverbal communication and complexity theory, to the parallels between negotiation strategy and both jazz and war-fighting. He has written extensive cases on negotiation system design, documenting GE’s “early dispute resolution initiative” and Guinness’s process for approving acquisitions and partnerships. With colleagues Gerald Zaltman and Kimberlyn Leary, he is investigating the emotions and unconscious attitudes that people bring to the bargaining table. With Clark Freshman, he is also exploring lie detection in negotiation.

Wheeler taught at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 1981 to 1994, where he was Director of Research at MIT’s Center for Real Estate Development. Previously he was Director of Education and Research at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Professor of Law at New England Law School. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado and the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. He has appeared extensively on public television in Boston and elsewhere.

He holds degrees from Amherst College, Boston University, and Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1969. He has been a panelist for the American Arbitration Association, and has served as a mediator or arbitrator in a variety of business and regulatory disputes. He has advised corporate clients, trade organizations, and government agencies on negotiation issues in the United States and abroad.

Courses Taught:

Program on Negotiation Negotiation and Leadership – PON Executive Education Seminar

Research Interests: complexity, conflict management, dispute resolution, negotiation, psychodynamics, improvisation

Select Publications:

Wheeler, Michael A. “Poise Under Pressure.” Negotiation 9, no. 12 (December 2006): 1-3.

Wheeler, Michael A., and Nancy J. Waters. “Origins of a Classic: Getting to Yes Turns 25.” Negotiation Journal 22, no. 3 (October 2006): 475-481.

Wheeler, Michael A., and Lakshmi Balachandra. “What Negotiators Can Learn from Improv Comedy.” Negotiation 9, no. 8 (August 2006): 1-3.

Wheeler, Michael A. “Closing the Deal.” Negotiation 9, no. 4 (April 2006): 2-5.

Wheeler, Michael A. “Is Teaching Negotiation Too Easy, Too Hard, or Both?” Negotiation Journal 22, no. 2 (April 2006): 187-197.

Link to website:



One Response to “Michael Wheeler”

  • Greg W.

    In your Sunday Minute your likening negotiations to jazz was spot on and very clever. As a mediator i always thought of myself as a conductor following the script and allowing parties to deal with the issues. But as a negotiator you need to have the skills of a jazz muso in order to create the artistic effect.


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