Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2007 (Revised April 2013)

Peter Welz: When a Marquee Prospect Plays Hardball (A)

by James K. Sebenius and Ellen Knebel


Describes the hardball tactics facing Peter Welz, who seeks to negotiate a make-or-break contract with a vastly larger potential client. Welz's counterpart team is led by Preston Spitzer, a notoriously tough player who fully understands his side's massive advantages in the process. With the economic fate of Welz's newly public smaller firm in the balance, Welz and his team must figure out how to handle some very tough tactics by Spitzer and his minions aimed at extracting lopsided contract concessions. These tactics include demeaning remarks, repeated threats to opt for a competitor, misrepresentations, repudiation of previously agreed provisions, last-minute demands, divide-and-conquer moves, and a waiting game that exploits the smaller firm's evidently urgent need for a closure. The (A) case sets up the negotiations and poses an immediate tactical challenge in the context of the overall process. The (B) case describes the strategies, tactics, and results of these negotiations, along with Welz's broader insights into a more productive approach to the common challenge of dealing with very hard bargainers.

Keywords: Negotiation Process; Negotiation Tactics; Behavior; Conflict and Resolution; Competitive Advantage;


Sebenius, James K., and Ellen Knebel. "Peter Welz: When a Marquee Prospect Plays Hardball (A)." Harvard Business School Case 908-010, September 2007. (Revised April 2013.)