Michael A. Wheeler

Professor of Management Practice, Retired

Michael Wheeler has taught Negotiation in Harvard Business School's MBA program since 1993. He also teaches in a wide variety of executive courses, including Strategic Negotiation, which he co-chairs with Professor James Sebenius. He is currently collaborating with the Baker Library to create Negotiate 1-2-3, an on-line, multi-media resource.

He was appointed MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Management Practice in 1999. He subsequently served as faculty chair of the first year MBA program and headed the required Negotiation course.  He has also taught The Moral Leader, as well as Leadership, Values, and Decision Making. In 2004 he received the Greenhill Award for his contributions to HBS's mission. In recent years has also been a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government.

Wheeler’s current research focuses on negotiation dynamics, dispute resolution, ethics, and distance learning. In July 2015 he was named Editor Emeritus of the Negotiation Journal, having been its Editor the prior twenty years. He also co-directs the Negotiation Pedagogy initiative at the inter-university Program on Negotiation.

He is the author or co-author of eleven books, including most recently, The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World. Among his other books are What’s Fair? Ethics for Negotiators (with Carrie Menkel-Meadow), Business Fundamentals in Negotiation, and On Teaching Negotiation. His text Environmental Dispute Resolution (with Lawrence Bacow) won the CPR-ADR’s annual award as the best book on negotiation.

Wheeler has written numerous articles in both scholarly journals (among them, the Yale Journal of Regulation, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, and The Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies) and the public press, including The Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. In the past year his work has been featured in The Financial Times and the Washington Post. Wheeler blogs about negotiation cases and issues on LinkedIn's Influencer platform. His self-assessment app—Negotiation360—was released early in 2015.

He has also developed scores of negotiation exercises, cases, notes, videos, and self-assessment tools. These materials cover subjects ranging from nonverbal communication and complexity theory, to the parallels between negotiation strategy and both jazz and war-fighting. He has written extensive case studies of negotiation system design, documenting GE’s “early dispute resolution initiative” and Guinness’s process for approving acquisitions and joint ventures. With colleagues Gerald Zaltman and Kimberlyn Leary, he has investigated emotions and unconscious attitudes that people bring to the bargaining table. 

Wheeler serves on the International Steering Committee of Afghanistan Center for Dispute Resolution (Kabul). He is also on the Advisory Councils of both the Moscow-based Center for Mediation and Law, and the ADR Center in Rome. He previously served on board of the Consensus Building Institute from its founding in 1993 to 2014, and was chair from 2011 to 2014.

He taught at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 1981 to 1993, where he was Director of Research at MIT's Center for Real Estate Development. Previously he was Director of Education and Research at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and Professor of Law at New England Law. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado and the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. He has appeared extensively on public television in Boston and elsewhere.

Wheeler holds degrees from Amherst College, Boston University, and Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1969. He has been a panelist for the American Arbitration Association, and has served as a mediator or arbitrator in a variety of business and regulatory disputes. He has advised corporate clients, trade organizations, and government agencies on negotiation issues in the United States and abroad.