The Inclusion of Negotiation in Sports Management Courses
Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration, University of Michigan
I teach negotiation at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. I have also taught negotiation in Ross programs for athletic directors, and have received requests from sports management and other professors to use my materials in their courses. In response to these requests, I have developed a package that includes: (1) a Teaching Note, (2) two roles, and (3) slides for your use in class. I am sharing these materials with NASSM members and other educators interested in negotiation here.
These materials are based on an exercise called “The House on Elm Street.” I used this exercise in the program for athletic directors, and it can be integrated into any sports management course or seminar.
The exercise involves a transaction that everyone can relate to—the sale of a house. The twist in the exercise is that unknown to the seller, the buyer is a secret agent representing a large multinational company. Each student receives a short (two-page) role as either the buyer or seller and they negotiate for 30 minutes, followed by an instructor-led debriefing.
The exercise is designed to achieve several learning goals. For example, students will learn how to:
- understand the different types of negotiations;
- prepare for negotiations using a negotiation analysis that includes a reservation price, most likely outcome, stretch goal, and zone of the potential agreement;
- recognize and decide ethical issues;
- develop and use their negotiating power through the concept of BATNA; and
- create value in a manner that benefits both sides.
The Teaching Note is divided into three sections. Section I explains how to set up the negotiation exercise. Section II provides a script for debriefing the exercise. The script includes copies of slides that I use in class during my own debriefing of the exercise. Section III, the final section, discusses a document titled “Self-Assessment and Feedback for the Other Side” that students can use to evaluate their negotiation skills and develop a plan for skill improvement. This plan could be used as an assignment. The negotiation, debriefing, and assessments combine to provide a powerful learning experience. As one student commented:
What a great learning experience! [I had] the chance to test and evaluate myself outside the work environment. I find myself in business negotiations and discussions on a daily basis. Yet the ability to get feedback and actually debrief a negotiation is really powerful! I considered myself rather self-actualized, but some interesting things came to light in the class discussions. I know that if I make a concerted effort to work on [my areas for improvement] it will certainly serve me well in my career—both now and in the future.
Universities and publishers typically charge $3.00 or $4.00 per student for use of roles like the ones in the package I have provided. To encourage you to develop your students’ negotiation skills, I am permitting the use of these materials free of charge. I hope that instructors find them useful. Please email me your feedback and suggestions for improvement. Thank you.