What’s Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

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Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler, eds.
What’s Fair is a landmark collection that focuses exclusively on the topic of ethics in negotiation. Edited by Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler, What’s Fair contains contributions from some of the best-known practitioners and scholars in the field, including Sissela Bok, Gregory Dees, Roger Fisher, James Freund, Deborah Kolb, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Howard Raiffa, Alvin Rubin, James Sebenius, Richard Shell, and Lawrence Susskind.

The editors and contributors offer an examination of why ethics matter individually and socially, and explain the essential duties and values of negotiation beyond formal legal requirements. With perspectives from a range of disciplines, they explore the question of “what’s fair” at multiple levels, including:

  • What duty do we owe to our negotiating counterparts to tell the truth? To avoid deception? To disclose potentially damaging information?
  • What tactics and behaviors are permissible in negotiation? For instance, is it ethical in certain circumstances to bluff? To use financial or legal pressure to force settlement?
  • What duties and responsibilities arise with regard to the principal-agent relationship in negotiation?
  • What social influences affect considerations of distributional fairness in negotiation? To what extent, if any, should negotiators consider how their actions affect society at large?

Carrie Menkel-Meadow is professor of law at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington D.C., and associate editor of Negotiation Journal. She is the chair of Georgetown Center for Public Resources Commission on Ethics and Standards in ADR and director of the Georgetown-Hewlett Program in Conflict Resolution and Legal Problem Solving.

Michael Wheeler is Class of 1952 Management Professor at Harvard Business School, a member of the Steering Committee of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and editor of Negotiation Journal.


“The assumption has long been made that even the most ethical of us will cheat during a negotiation. This book, What’s Fair, finally pulls together some of the most important papers dealing with this assumption into a single, badly needed volume. This is a book that should be read by everyone who negotiates or who cares about ethics. Which is to say, all of us.”

— David M. Messick, Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

What’s Fair is a long-awaited treasure — a definitive book of readings on the full universe of questions about ethics in negotiation, introduced and tied together with helpful essays and explanations by the editors. This book is essential reading for everyone in law and business who is concerned about the ethics of negotiation.”

— Gerald R. Williams, professor of law, Brigham Young University

“Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler are at the foregfront of scholarship and practice in negotiation. What’s Fair is requisite for anyone desiring to be informed on negotiation — and intent on doing the right thing.”

— James F. Henry, president emeritus, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution

“Few professional endeavors are as ethically polarized as negotiation. This comprehensive volume offers theoretical and practical insights on how negotiators can do good at the same time as they do well for themselves and their clients.”

— Paul Brest, president, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former dean, Stanford Law School

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