Negotiation & Conflict Management: From the Classroom to the Conference RoomApril 23, 2018
Associate Professor of Management Chris Meyer teaches one of Baylor’s most popular courses in the EMBA program: Negotiation and Conflict Management. Inspired by his doctoral research into human interaction, Dr. Meyer designed the course from the ground up in 2007. It’s changed every semester since so as to stay “immediately relevant” to the current cohort, but always includes a mix of readings, simulations, and lively group discussion.
As Dr. Meyer explains, “Executive education allows for the practical application of what we’re talking about in the classroom to people’s everyday lives.” To make sure that students get the highest return on their investment therefore, he encourages them to drive their own learning. “We talk about their questions, how they see the content, and how they want to apply it,” he says. Which they then go on to do—right away.
Austin EMBA student Sarah McClung and her boyfriend set a goal of buying their first house by March 2018; class started in January. “By the third class,” McClung shares, “Chris had me thinking beyond dollars and competition. I learned to focus on three aspects: my aspiration (or what I want out of the negotiation); my reservation point (the most I’m willing to give); and my BATNA (or best alternative to a negotiated agreement).” She identified each of these elements, did her research, and walked through all the possible scenarios in her head before sitting down with the builder of the home they wanted. Next, she made a point of getting to know him. Taking this people-first approach, McClung says, “I got more out of the deal than I ever imagined. I got it down to the price I wanted, and even negotiated finishes and fixtures.”
Wayne Grau (Dallas EMBA 2019 and the VP of Trade Relations for Managed Healthcare Associates) has a similar story. He leads a team that negotiates contracts with manufacturers of medical equipment. “In the past,” says Grau, “it was more about negotiating for a better deal rather than negotiating for a better outcome. Now we ask, ‘What can we do together to grow the overall value of this contract for everyone involved?’” After taking Dr. Meyer’s class, he successfully renegotiated two contracts (that each have the potential to add about a million dollars in sales!) by personally engaging everyone in the conference room and brainstorming outside the box.
According to Dr. Meyer, it’s the only truism of Negotiation and Conflict Management that stays the same every semester. “You have to know your interests in the negotiation—the reason you’re doing it—and the interests of the other party. If you can develop a relationship, it suddenly opens up the negotiation and makes it a much more robust interaction.”