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What are Negotiauctions?

Negotiauctions combine the competitive bidding of an auction with the one-on-one dealmaking of a negotiation.

Many (if not most) complex deals between buyers and sellers—from home sales to purchasing auctions to corporate mergers—qualify as negotiauctions.

Negotiauctions give sellers the opportunity to avoid making the difficult tradeoffs of traditional negotiations or auctions— competition versus value creation, for example, or many versus few bidders. In fact, sellers can take the best of both worlds— negotiations and auctions—to ensure they get a great deal.

Negotiauctions have the following features:

1. One-on-one negotiations. At some stage of negotiauctions, the seller engages one or more buyers in private discussions about the asset on the table.

2. One or more rounds of bidding. The seller also pits potential buyers against one another in an auction.

3. Several, but not too many, potential buyers.

Negotiauctions need enough parties to spark an auction but not so many that one-on-one negotiation would be difficult for the seller to manage.

4. Process ambiguity. In a traditional auction, the seller determines the process (whether there will be a single round of bidding or multiple rounds, for instance), and buyers are passive participants. In negotiauctions, by contrast, the process is up for grabs.

Buyers can try to shape the process to their advantage, as in the case of an auction contestant who approaches a seller about negotiating privately to move beyond the single issue of price.

In general, whether you are the process setter or a bidder in an auction that has features of a negotiation, don’t assume that the rules are set in stone. Instead, change the game by thinking about how you can influence the rules, parties, and assets to your advantage.

To improve your skills at managing even the most complex negotiations, download this free special report, Managing Multiparty Negotiations, from Harvard Law School.

The following items are tagged negotiauctions:

Secrets of Successful Dealmaking

Posted by & filed under Harvard Negotiation Institute, Harvard Negotiation Institute (Five-Day Programs).

Course Dates: This course is closed In corporate dealmaking, much of the action happens away from the negotiating table. Successful dealmakers understand that deal set-up and design greatly influence negotiation outcomes. In this program, you will examine the legal, tactical, and structural elements of dealmaking and acquire practical skills and techniques for navigating difficult tactics and … Read Secrets of Successful Dealmaking

Beware the Winner’s Curse in Auctions

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

In 2017, Amazon announced it was taking bids from cities interested in being the site of its second headquarters, known as HQ2. The online behemoth said it would be investing $5 billion in a campus and creating 50,000 well-paying jobs. Cities and regions across North America snapped to attention, and Amazon received 238 proposals. … Read Beware the Winner’s Curse in Auctions

How To Avoid a Business Contract Bidding War

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

Back in 2014, Nike was the undisputed king of superstar endorsements, dominating the field by paying top talent millions for the right to sell lines of collectible shoes in their names. But sportswear and footwear supplier Under Armour made a bold play to change the landscape. Basketball star Kevin Durant, then of the Oklahoma City … Read How To Avoid a Business Contract Bidding War

The Winner’s Curse: Avoid This Common Trap in Auctions

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Imagine that a professor shows a jar full of coins to his class and announces he’s auctioning it off. Students are told they can write down a bid and that the highest bidder will win the contents in exchange for the money he or she bid. After everyone has written down their bids, the professor … Read More

Dear Negotiation Coach: Negotiating a Win Win Relationship with Friends

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Though we’re often advised against mixing friends and business, it’s not only inevitable at times; it can also be beneficial to everyone involved. The key is to negotiate in a way that ensures a win win relationship between parties, and in bigger business deals, that may include seeking outside help. We connected with Guhan Subramanian, Joseph … Read More

Business Negotiation Skills: How to Deal with a Failing Business Partnership

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations.

It had seemed like the beginning of a fruitful relationship. In April 2012, six wealthy businessmen teamed up to buy the Philadelphia Inquirer and several affiliated businesses for $61.1 million, promising to work together to reverse the newspaper’s flagging fortunes. Their infusions of cash and appointment of a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, William K. Marimow, as … Read More

Dear Negotiation Coach: Deal Structuring and Negotiating with “Bad Acts”

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Deal structuring and negotiating can feel challenging in the best of situations. But when you’re dealing with “bad acts,” there are additional factors to consider when you structure your negotiation strategy. This is what one reader asked about when facing a deal to buy out a company. Here’s their question: Q: I work for an international … Read More

Ask A Negotiation Expert: Trends in Merger and Acquisition Strategies

Posted by & filed under Teaching Negotiation.

We recently spoke with Guhan Subramanian, the Joseph H. Flom Professor of Law and Business at Harvard Law School and the H. Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law at Harvard Business School, regarding trends in merger and acquisition strategies and how that’s impacting negotiations.  Negotiation Briefings: In your research, you’ve found that the way in which … Read More

Dear Negotiation Coach: Can External Advisers Hinder a Problem Solving Approach?

Posted by & filed under Mediation.

There are numerous advantages to hearing from external advisers and experts in a high-stakes negotiation. However, when talks are at an impasse, limiting the negotiation to a small number of participants may be a more beneficial problem solving approach than including outside opinions. This was at the heart of a recent question answered by Guhan Subramanian, … Read More

Dear Negotiation Coach: How Do I Handle Reverse Auctions in a Business Contract Negotiation

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Reverse auctions are becoming a more frequent reality of business contract negotiations as companies work to cut expenses. In most negotiations, however, price is not the only issue. Guhan Subramanian, Joseph Flom Professor of Law & Business at Harvard Law School and Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law at Harvard Business School, answered a question … Read More

Dear Negotiation Coach: How Can I Use Deal Structuring and Negotiating to Resolve an Impasse?

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

When two sides seem far apart on a contract dispute, careful and creative deal structuring and negotiating can often result in a winning agreement for both sides. Here’s an example of how that might look in a business deal, based on a question we recently received. “My company, a large multinational, contracts with an outside vendor … Read More

In Preparation for Negotiation, Choose the Right Process

Posted by & filed under Negotiation Skills.

In preparation for negotiation, sellers face a choice between negotiating one on one with buyers, holding an auction, or combining elements of both processes. Consider the different paths that Amazon and Apple followed in 2017 when each began scouting locations for a new campus: 

Dangling the prospect of a $5 billion campus and about 50,000 jobs, … Read More

Case Study of Business Negotiations and Deal Making: Giving Voice to Negotiators Away from the Bargaining Table

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Sometimes negotiators focus too much on the bargaining session at hand, to the detriment of bargainers away from the negotiation table, a group whose concerns and input is just as valid as those of the negotiators themselves. Here are some negotiation tips to help make sure your bargaining strategies include the voices and concerns of … Read More

Bargaining at a Fever Pitch

Posted by & filed under Leadership Skills.

Have you ever won an auction only to realize later that you overbid for the prize? In competitive bidding situations, it’s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and overpay. The Boston Red Sox 2006 procurement of Japanese pitching phenomenon Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka offers a lesson in keeping cool in these … Read Bargaining at a Fever Pitch

Negotiation in the News: Before building a coalition, consider the consequences

Posted by & filed under Leadership Skills.

This past July, the News Media Alliance (NMA), a trade association of approximately 2,000 U.S. and Canadian news organizations, announced that it was planning to ask Congress for a limited antitrust exemption to allow its members to negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook regarding digital advertising. With consumers increasingly accessing their news through web platforms, … Read More

Win-Win Business Negotiations: The Wachovia Buyout

Posted by & filed under Win-Win Negotiations.

Changing financial and legal conditions can create and destroy wealth in the blink of an eye. How does a negotiator take advantage of such periods of change? During the financial crisis of 2008, Wachovia Corporation found itself looking for a buyer to avoid collapse while the financial industry as a whole was the grips of … Read More

A Bidding War at Sundance

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Filmmaker Nate Parker sticks to his dreams in a heated “negotiauction.” Most sellers dream about driving up the price of a commodity in a bidding war. But how can you stay true to your nonfinancial goals in an auction fixated on price? Nate Parker, the filmmaker, star, and producer behind the film The Birth of a … Read A Bidding War at Sundance

Pull Ahead of the Pack with a “Negotiauction”

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Robert Barnett, a corporate attorney based in Washington, D.C., moonlights as a book agent for celebrity politicians—including Barack Obama, Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. New York editors line up to sign Barnett’s clients and, they hope, rake in blockbuster profits. Barnett’s technique is to introduce his latest superstar to the major publishing houses and … Read Pull Ahead of the Pack with a “Negotiauction”

From negotiation to auction: The rise of real-time bidding

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

Because of a technological innovation called real-time bidding, or RTB, more and more online-advertising transactions are being completed through auctions rather than negotiations. The transformation could foreshadow similar changes in other realms, as negotiations gain the potential to become more automated. How RTB works In the dark ages of the Internet, websites would negotiate individually with potential … Read More

Sellers: Stay out of legal hot water

Posted by & filed under Dealmaking.

When it comes to business negotiations, you probably understand the importance of being as principled as possible to protect your reputation and ward off legal trouble. You probably expect your counterparts to follow the straight and narrow as well. Yet negotiators often have only a fuzzy grasp of which claims and strategies are legal and … Read Sellers: Stay out of legal hot water

Negotiation? Auction? A Deal Maker’s Guide

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily.

Guhan Subramanian, Joseph Flom Professor of Law and Business, Harvard Law School; Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law, Harvard Business School; Author of Negotiauctions When you have something to sell, should you hold an auction or negotiate a collaborative deal that delivers maximum value to both sides? In this article, professor Guhan Subramanian compares the risks … Read Negotiation? Auction? A Deal Maker’s Guide

Professor Subramanian Featured in NYTimes DealBook

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily, News.

PON Executive Committee member and author of the book Negotiauctions was featured in the New York Times DealBook discussing the effectiveness of go-shop provisions in contracts. To read the full article, click here. Professor Subramanian found that “despite the conventional wisdom, go-shops were generally effective and did indeed result in subsequent bids. The one exception … Read More

Prof. Guhan Subramanian featured in Forbes India

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily.

Professor Guhan Subramanian was featured in Forbes India in April 2010. Professor Subramanian discusses his latest book Negotiauctions: New Dealmaking Strategies for a Competitive Marketplace, which was published in February 2010. Click here to read the full article. Professor Subramanian will be teaching Advanced Negotiation: Deal Design and Implementation at the Harvard Negotiation Institute June 14-18. For … Read Prof. Guhan Subramanian featured in Forbes India

Professor Guhan Subramanian featured in

Posted by & filed under Business Negotiations, Daily, Resources, Reviews of Books.

Guhan Subramanian is one of the most prominent — and ambitious — legal academics of his generation. The 39-year-old is the only person who’s ever held tenured positions at Harvard’s law and business schools, and on the side he advises companies on M&A and corporate governance. After authoring numerous academic papers and a corporate law … Read More