Article | Negotiation Journal | January 2012

Three Cheers for Teaching Distributive Bargaining

by Michael A. Wheeler


Back in the 1990s, business school professors at an Academy of Management conference debated the propriety of teaching distributive bargaining to their students. The particulars of that exchange are lost in the mists of time, but at the end of the session, a straw poll apparently was taken. A huge majority of the attendees disapproved of exposing their impressionable pupils to the reality that in some negotiations, more for one party means less for the other. I gather the consensus view rested on the notion that distributive bargaining is brutish, perhaps even immoral. Perhaps negotiation teachers wanted to see themselves as surrogate peacemakers and problem solvers, bringers of value-creating light to the world through the future of good works of their charges. They certainly didn't want to see themselves as pit bull trainers.

Keywords: Management; Conferences; Business Education; Debates; Negotiation; Problems and Challenges; Value Creation; Moral Sensibility;


Wheeler, Michael A. "Three Cheers for Teaching Distributive Bargaining." Negotiation Journal 28, no. 1 (January 2012).