fbpx Fundamentals of Negotiation Analysis and Practice | Harvard Kennedy School
Brian Mandell Photo

Brian Mandell

Mohamed Kamal Senior Lecturer in Negotiation and Public Policy

Julia Minson Photo

Julia Minson

Associate Professor of Public Policy

Being a skillful negotiator is a pre-requisite for turning ideas into actions. Negotiations permeate our interactions with governments, organizations, co-workers, bosses, subordinates, friends, and foes. Thus, analytic and interpersonal negotiation skills are essential for creating value, operational capacity, legitimacy, and support for crucial decisions and collective action. At the same time, negotiators often confront resistance from well-resourced adversaries, information asymmetries, psychological biases, and constant change. We thus need to be able to anticipate barriers to agreement, assess our no-deal alternatives, diagnose and interpret underlying interests, in addition to applying evidenced techniques to advance our interests and the interests of those who rely on us.

This course is an intensive 6-week module designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of negotiation analysis and practice. The course is required of all MPP1 students and there will be no exemptions, section changes, auditors, or cross-registrants permitted in MLD-220M.

Sections A and C - Mandell

Students will apply the negotiation-analytic framework to ongoing, real-world negotiation challenges as policy entrepreneurs. Specifically, students will examine the structure, context, and role of key stakeholders in a broad range of public policy negotiations (both domestic and international) to diagnose barriers to agreement and opportunities for crafting innovative solutions.

Through analysis of case studies and in weekly negotiation exercises, students will address the challenges of creating and claiming value, managing conflict escalation, and building deal-driving coalitions. Cumulative, experiential skill-building opportunities will allow students to practice their powers of persuasion, experiment with a variety of tactics and strategies, be exposed to situations involving a shifting mix of cooperation and competition, and face important ethical choices. The exercises will strengthen students' ability to set the negotiating table, manage trade-offs and concessions necessary for agreement, and secure commitment to favorable outcomes.

Section B and D – Minson

A core premise of this course is that great negotiators are not born, but made through considered, evidence-based skill building. Throughout this module, students will learn how to apply analytical skills to gain a strategic understanding of negotiation contexts alongside learning empirically validated techniques for advancing their interests. Drawing on core principles of behavioral science, students will improve their ability to understand and predict the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations in competitive and collaborative situations.

Students will conduct regular simulated negotiations across a broad spectrum of scenarios in order to practice the application of negotiation principles. These simulations will involve a variety of scale and power dynamics, designed to build understanding, capability, and confidence to achieve better outcomes in all negotiations. Through this extensive practice, students will gain a deep understanding of the strategic structure of negotiations and think critically about interests, goals, positions, alternatives, and power.

Open to MPP1 students only. MPP students will not be allowed to enroll in MLD-222M, which is a very similar course designed for non-MPPs. MLD-220M serves as a prerequisite for MLD-223M (Negotiating Across Differences), and MLD-280 (Advanced Workshop in Multiparty Negotiation and Conflict Resolution). MLD-220M and HLS 2195 (the HLS Negotiation Workshop) may not both be taken for credit.