Background Note | HBS Case Collection | December 2001

A Note on Critical Moments in Negotiation

by Michael A. Wheeler and Gillian Morris


This case provides an introduction to the wide field of literature that addresses the presence of critical moments--moments that fundamentally can change the negotiation. Critical moments have been examined by a range of theorists and scientists, from mathematicians to linguists to evolutionary biologists. As such, there are several lenses through which to interpret them. Some scholars see them as tipping points; others see critical moments as the points of transition between phases or stages. The case examines these models and ways these models can help negotiators recognize critical moments as they occur. If negotiators can increase their ability to perceive critical junctures, their opportunities to shape the course of the negotiation and achieve desirable outcomes is greatly improved.

Keywords: Negotiation Tactics; Decision Choices and Conditions; Change; Negotiation Process; Body of Literature;


Wheeler, Michael A., and Gillian Morris. "A Note on Critical Moments in Negotiation." Harvard Business School Background Note 902-163, December 2001.