Among the signature curriculum of the Harvard Kennedy School, negotiation training has always stood out as among the most popular due to its practicality and necessity across all sectors and policy domains. Founded by one of the luminaries of negotiation science, Howard Raiffa, HKS has faculty have always been at the forefront of negotiation research and training. With the two introductory negotiation courses outside the MPP core, MLD-223 Negotiating Across Differences with Senior Lecturer in Public Policy Kessely Hong, and MLD-224 Behavioral Science of Negotiations with Associate Professor Julia Minson, students can learn the fundamental, time-tested frameworks of negotiation analysis. Both courses introduce the core concepts of distributive bargaining, value creation, stakeholder analysis, trust-building, barriers to agreement, and strategic approaches to negotiation.
Both courses also feature numerous negotiation simulations, in which students have the opportunity to learn how to prepare effectively, to practice communication and persuasion, and to experiment with a variety of negotiation tactics and strategies. Analysis of their own approach to, and individual outcomes in, such simulations allows students to experience first-hand the powerful strategic and psychological dynamics present in negotiation situations. Both Minson and Hong, along with their skilled course coaches, facilitate students’ reflective learning from each of the simulations. Ultimately, this reflective practice through frameworks taught in the courses enables students to develop their own capacity to improve as effective negotiators.
While there is much overlap in what each course covers, there are distinctive differences between them as well. MLD-223 (Hong) offers more complex, multiple-stakeholder cases and simulations, some of which include salient cultural or power differences and multi-party dynamics. Students are challenged to navigate differences in expectations, attitudes toward risk, culture, power, status, and partisan perceptions. MLD-224 (Minson) prioritizes the negotiation topics that have the most guidance derived from experimental research. As Minson quips, “I am fundamentally skeptical of expert advice until I see the data,” so she focuses her course more on the psychology and decision-making involved in one-on-one negotiations. In Minson’s course students do almost no written-case discussion, but instead class time is spend talking about how research findings might translate into negotiation strategies. Research-derived topics covered include ethics and deception, the role of gender and personality, operating under time pressure, mixed motives and game theory, judgment biases in negotiations, psychological barriers to conflict resolution, and the impact mediation can have. In Hong’s course, students read and analyze a variety of very rich real-world cases, in which interpretations of the protagonists’ actions provide illuminating insights into similar spectrum of dynamics (personal, psychological, political, cultural, etc.) at play in negotiations over public policy.
Both MLD-223 and MLD-224 serve as pre-requisites for MLD-280M Advanced Workshop in Multiparty Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, the January-term course, taught by Brian Mandell, Mohamed Kamal Senior Lecturer in Negotiation and Public Policy. Students wanting to additional venues to study, research, and design new ways of negotiation practice will be interested in exploring the Kennedy School Negotiation Program. Established and directed by Brian Mandell, KSNP brings together affiliated faculty from the Harvard Kennedy School whose work on negotiation, conflict management, alternative dispute resolution, and intersectional leadership expands the way our community and the broader field studies leadership and negotiation. KSNP offers a variety of student resources and programming.
The challenges confronting public policy professionals in this exceptional period call for the ability to engage effectively across professional cultures, political inclinations, and ideologies. Those on the frontlines of global negotiation must establish a dialogue to address global problems like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, migration pressure, and protracted armed conflicts that affect millions of people every day. MLD-234 Conducting Negotiation on the Frontlines with Claude Bruderlein will introduce students to negotiation practices in crisis situations where the level of distrust and, at times, hostility between the parties require specific tools and methods to establish and maintain a minimum of a dialogue, particularly for the purpose of protecting the most vulnerable populations and ensuring the provision of food, water, shelter, and other essential items. MLD-234 is taught in close collaboration with the Centre of Competence and Humanitarian Negotiation and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, enabling students to engage virtually with frontline humanitarian negotiators from the UN and other international agencies operating in crises around the globe. Taking advantage of the digital platform on which the course will be given in the fall 2020, this course offers a unique safe space to review and discuss current challenges and dilemmas with stakeholders of ongoing negotiation processes and examine practical tools and methods to overcome these challenges. Students will also be encouraged to develop their own critical thinking about these issues and to test their negotiation skills in simulations and other practical exercises.
Watch and learn more about the course and meet Prof. Bruderlein
MLD-234 was last offered at Harvard Kennedy School in the Fall of 2020, when it was also jointly listed at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health as GHP-243.
This course is not offered in Academic Year 2021-22 and, unfortunately, as of August 2021 there is no definite timeline as to when we will be able to offer it again.
For questions about other MLD negotiation courses or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.
Special Presentation: Understanding Emotion in the Context of Intractable Intergroup Conflict
with Professor Eran Halperin of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel
Bio: Professor Eran Halperin is Dean of the School of Psychology and Professor at IDC – Herzliya. An award-winning pioneer in examining emotion processes using field experiments, Dr. Halperin’s research uses psychological and political theories to investigate causal factors driving intergroup conflicts. More specifically, his work develops new approaches for modifying the psychological roots of intolerance, exclusion and intergroup violence. The unique case of Israeli society in general, and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, motivates much of his work and, hence, most of his studies are conducted within the context of that “natural laboratory.” His laboratory currently spearheads a government sponsored project to standardize social inclusion in Israeli education.
Date: April 27, 2017 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: HKS, Belfer Building, Land Lecture Hall (Room 400)
Space is limited; RSVP by April 19 REQUIRED (Light lunch will be provided)
Presentation sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Additional support provided by the Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, the Management, Leadership, and Decision Science Area at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Middle East Initiative of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.