Our this year’s negotiation competition took place on April 21-22 in Bogota, Colombia. 18 teams representing world’s best business and law schools traveled long ways to live their passion, meet other students, professionals and academics who share it and to compare their negotiation skills and become The Great Negotiators and World Champions 2017.
Why are we doing this? Organizing TNC is a lot of work so why after so many years, we still extend our working hours, invest lots of our time and resources, write cases, help out with the logistics, and constantly ask ourselves what else can we do to make it better. Money? Definitely not! Participating in The Negotiation Challenge has always been free of charge. We even try to arrange free accommodation and meals for the participating students. Fame? Not really. Organizing negotiation competitions is not an evaluation criterion for academics and even less will it help us during our performance reviews. So why?
I tried to explain our reasons during my opening address at University of Los Andes our hosting institution in Bogota. It is a dream of every teacher, instructor, professor to see the shining eyes in front of them and we have been very privileged to see lots of them every year. Yes, we are idealists. Teaching students how to negotiate better, inspire them to search from wise and sustainable agreements and resolve disputes, showing them that there is a viable alternative to competition is what keeps us going. It is our tiny contribution to making this world a better place.
The first round of The Negotiation Challenge took place online. The participants negotiated the details of an M&A deal between a Colombian producer of high-end chocolate products and an US chain of luxury supermarkets.
During the second round hosted at the University of Los Andes, the participants found the lost treasures of El Dorado and had to agree on how to distribute them.
The third round took place at a beautiful Hotel de la Opera in the center of Bogota and focused on the Colombian peace process between the representatives of the government and the FARC leaders.
The last qualification round and the final were conducted at the beautiful Hacienda El Noviciado right outside of Bogota. The topic of the fourth round was the division of costs and revenues from the extension of the Panama Canal whereas in the final the teams from American University and IPADE Business School re-engineered the Colombian peace process after the recent rejection of its results in a referendum.
The jury decided to award the title of the Great Negotiators to Alex, Luis and Hector from IPADE Business School. The third place went to the Amy, Benjamin and Jonathan representing Harvard’s Kennedy School.
The Negotiation Challenge 2017 is history now so it is time for conclusions. First and the foremost, having The Gap Partnership as our strategic partner has helped us finance the competition but also improved its quality. Having such a strong partner who is just as passionate about negotiation as we are, helped us elevate the competition to a completely new level. Offering the participants a blend of solid scientific and pedagogical foundation with commercial acumen of international experts, makes The Negotiation Challenge one of the world’s best negotiation competitions and an unforgettable educational experience for students. We are very happy to have gained such a strong partner.
Second, Colombia and the Colombians. Prior to the competition many students and colleagues raised their doubts about organizing TNC outside of Europe. Yes, for many teams travel expenses doubled, for some they quadrupled, for others they turned out prohibitive. We were aware of this issue and did expect it to have an impact on the mix of participating teams and it probably did. We decided to try it anyway and very pleased with the result. Ultimately, in Colombia we found our new Negotiation Champions, the team from IPADE Business School from Mexico.
Interestingly enough during our stay in Colombia, one of German magazines published the list of the safest tourist destinations and ranked Colombia together with Jemen as the most dangerous countries in the world. We read it on the beach of La Isla Rosario and could not resist laughing in disbelief. Whoever came up with this ranking had absolutely no idea. Not for a single minute or event a second were we in danger or at risk but during our whole stay in Colombia we felt very welcome, surrounded by kind, helpful and warm-hearted Colombians.
I wish we had more time to travel during our stay in Colombia. The country has a lot to offer, even for the most demanding visitors and a week is certainly not enough to see all its treasures. We barely got a taste of them and we absolutely loved it! The combination of colors, warm and life enjoying people, fresh fruits and the sun was close to perfection. It would be great to come back one day…