Najam Publishes in HBR on Negotiating in a Crisis

Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies, recently published an essay titled, “Avoid These Traps When Negotiating in a Crisis” in the Harvard Business Review.  The article was published on March 24, 2020.

The essay looks at the literature on negotiations and finds that in times of crisis, a great deal of negotiation is done through negotiation. It argues that standard negotiation advice does not come handy because “in times of panic, there are at least two important ‘traps’ that make [it] difficult or, worse, inappropriate.” Najam describes ways to et out of these ‘traps’ and suggests that the best practices of focusing on contingent measures and collaborative decision-making should be adopted when dealing with a crisis.

More from the essay:

Right now, around the world, countless negotiations are underway, and the results will literally influence life and death. Leaders and their advisers at innumerable school boards, town halls, universities, C-suites and boardrooms, governors’ mansions, and presidential palaces are desperately deliberating over policies for social distancing, reducing density, setting restrictions, relaxing standard procedures, working remotely, teaching online, and much more that will determine the ultimate outcome of this pandemic.

In times of crisis, a great deal of decision-making is done through negotiation. Some crises — market crashes, natural disasters, even wars — can, to a degree, be anticipated and prepared for. The Covid-19 pandemic is not one of these cases. The speed and severity of its potential threats, uncertainty of information patterns, and, most importantly, its novelty, make it feel very different. These factors will lead many to panic. They also heighten the need for people to debate and decide on potential solutions together.

The full piece may be read here.

Adil Najam is the Inaugural Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and was the former Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Read more about him here.