HHL Expert Talk: How to Become a Great Negotiator – Intuition, Research and Practice

In the modern, interconnected network economy, negotiation has become one of the most important skills of successful managers and entrepreneurs. HHL has been one of the pioneers in this field in Germany, offering negotiation courses for almost 20 years of its modern history.

Our passion for theory and practice of negotiation culminated in launching The Negotiation Challenge, which has become a major international negotiation competition for students and practitioners in the world.

Yet, despite four decades of extensive research, the most fundamental questions in the field remain largely open. How can we systematically capture and compare the negotiators’ performance? What are the characteristics of great negotiators? Finally, and most importantly: How can we become great negotiators ourselves? The answers to these questions can help us design better negotiation courses and offer fairer negotiation competitions.

In our expert talk on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 6:30–7:30 PM, we will contrast our intuitive answer to these questions with the first research results and discuss how to apply these insights in practice.

Register now


Source: HHL Expert Talk: How to Become a Great Negotiator – Intuition, Research and Practice – HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management

The Negotiation Challenge 2017

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.

The Trophy

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.

University of Los Andes – great view on surrounding mountains

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.

Round 3 at Hotel de la Opera

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 final rounds at the Hacienda

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.

TNC 2017 – The Winners

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.

The Gap Partnership – strategic sponsor of The Negotiation Challenge

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…

La Isla Rosario


World Championship in Negotiation

The Negotiation Challenge is major global negotiation competition for graduate students.  In 2017, 18 teams of world’s best students will compete in Bogota, Colombia.  This is the first time the competition takes place outside Europe and we are all excited and looking forward to meeting the participants soon.

18 international teams will compete in the World Championship in Negotiation in Bogotá on April 21 and 22, 2017

Source: News & Events Details | HHL Europe, Germany

HHL Appoints Honorary Professor for Negotiation

… so I became a professor. Who would have ever thought…  I often have to look back at picture below to remind myself that it was not a dream and did really happen.  On June 23, the Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart appointed me Honorary Professor for Negotiation at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and it was one of the best days of my life.

Prof Dr Remigiusz Smolinski_re_Prof Dr Andreas Pinkwart_li_Foto HHL

Photo credit: HHL

HHL Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart says, “With Dr. Smolinski, an internationally renowned expert from the field of negotiation has joined us at HHL. He sustainably contributes to the success of our innovate125 Future Concept.”

Becoming a professor is kind of a big deal in Germany, where professor is not only a description of a function (someone who teaches at a university) but also a title that needs to be officially granted by an academic institution before it can used.  Interestingly enough, only academically appointed professors are allowed to carry the prefix prof. in front of their names.  Moreover, once granted, this prefix becomes a part of the name and can be carried also in official documents such as IDs, driver’s licenses and passports.

Many thanks to all those who believed in me and supported me on the way!  My special thanks go in the first place to:  my beautiful and loving wife Anna who has always unconditionally supported my passions and patiently tolerated their consequences including frequent separations and late night research, to Jan and Hanna whose smiles always brighten my days and help me fight for a better future, to all my academic mentors (Peter, Arnis, Jes, Arshad and many many more) who showed me the true meaning of science, helped me discover my academic passion and taught how to inspire the curiosity of students, and finally, to all my students who patiently allowed me to share my passion with them.  One person, however, could not celebrate with us this great moment…  Mom, I know you would be very proud to witness this day and I am so sorry God decided otherwise…  We all miss you and hope to join you in heaven one day…

I would never become who I am without your love and unconditional support.  Thank you so much!  It would never be possible without you!


Source: News & Events Details | HHL Europe, Germany

The Negotiation Challenge 2016 in Vienna

It has been 10 years since we organized The Negotiation Challenge for the first time.  Back then not even in our wildest dreams did we imagine how well it would develop and where it would take us.  It has been an amazing journey!

On April 1-2, world’s greatest student negotiators met in Vienna and competed for the title of The Great Negotiator 2016.  16 teams from nearly all continents measured and compared their negotiation skills in an unofficial World Championship in Negotiation.

After 4 qualification rounds, we the final took place between American University Washington College of Law and…  we had a problem.  We had a tie for the second spot in the final between Reykjavik University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  According to our regulations, the second finalist had to be chosen randomly by a coin toss, and the coin chose…  the team representing UC Hastings.

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Whitney Geitz, Sara Fay Katz, and Danielle Ling Chang negotiating for UC Hastings.

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Laura daRosa, Colleen Wellington-Caban, and Jung Kim representing American University Washington College of Law.

The jury consisting of Prof. Dr. Sabine Köszegi, Steve Gates, CEO of The Gap Partnership, and Alexander von Reden, Partner at CMS decided that the title of  The Great Negotiators 2016 would go to American University Washington College of Law.  Congratulations to Laura, Colleen, and Jung!

The Negotiation Challenge 2016 was truly amazing and it would not have been possible without kind hospitality of our hosts Vienna Technical University with Prof. Dr. Sabine Köszegi and her team as well as Vienna University with with Prof. Dr. Rudolph Vetschera and his team.  We thank all our supporters and sponsors and look forward to meeting a new batch of world’s best student negotiators in Bogota next year!

Source: TNC 2016 – TNC | The Negotiation Challenge | International Negotiation Competition

Art of Negotiation – On Negotiation Teaching in Germany

I am very happy that my work in the area of negotiation has recently been noticed by Süddeutsche Zeitung – one of the main German newspapers.  We need lots more of those to help negotiation reach the status it deserves in academia.  It might be hard to believe but negotiation is still not taught at the most German universities and there are only a few colleagues, who focus on it in their research.  Read more…

Source: Verhandlungskunst – Mit Strategie zum Ziel – Karriere – Süddeutsche.de