Harvard style negotiations

Press release no. 22 / 2011, 16.09.2011 Negotiation Symposium on 15.09.2011 at the Cologne Business School

Using the motto “Meet me half way”, under Prof. Dr. habil. Elisabeth Fröhlich's academic leadership, the CBS held its second symposium on the topic of negotiation techniques this year.

How do I conduct negotiations with successful results without giving the impression of a sharp tone or representing a position which my negotiation partner simply cannot agree to? How do I manage to achieve positive results from the supposed weaker position? These questions occupied Cologne Business School students as well as several company representatives within the scope of lectures, expert discussions and workshops.

Prof. Fröhlich welcomed some 100 guests in the University's Audimax at 1 p.m. and recollected the initial symposium in 2010 which was held at Bayer AG's initiative and was on the topic of Sustainability. This year, a conscious decision was taken in favour of Negotiation as this topic is becoming more and more important globally.

Prof. Fröhlich said a warm thank-you to Mr Ralf Schneider from Bayer, who had accompanied the preparatory work this year again, made the contact to Søren Hilligshoe and kicked-off the symposium with a keynote. In his speech, Mr Schneider accentuated the good collaboration between Bayer and the CBS, encouraged the students to apply for industrial placements at Bayer personally via him and emphasized the Group's interest in continuing close cooperation through research projects and supporting final papers. No student should be too shy to contact him via Xing or LinkedIn. Social networks are even used by multinational companies nowadays and are already established as means of communication at management level.

In his presentation, Mr Hilligshoe explained the Harvard style methods, providing detailed examples, repeatedly demonstrating his audience the importance of stringent, binding and results-orientated communication skills. A feeling for the high art of diplomacy was aroused in the auditorium and many a participant already actually formulated for himself/herself phrases or sentences with which he/she wishes to promote his/her own projects in the future.

"You may rest assured that no symposium participant has already, in the past, given such intense thought to the opportunities which trained conducting of discussions offers for negotiation success. Many of them will have lost their own secure positions due to sub-optimum argumentation in the past. For the purposes of preparing these students for their working life, it is important to me that, in addition to their indispensible specialist knowledge, they must also have a command of the techniques to implement their projects in a target-orientated manner through professionally conducted discussions", commented Prof. Fröhlich, summarizing.

Following the presentation, workshops lasting several hours took place in which a negotiation situation was simulated, whereby the participants were expected to achieve "win-win results" according to the methods previously discussed. Not all the groups reached the desired results as solving the problem (own and third-party success) was exceptionally tough.

Nonetheless, praise was high from the side of the company representatives: "I wish I had also already developed a feeling for the importance of correct negotiating during my degree course. With its Negotiation Symposium, the CBS has equipped its students with very important competences", as Mr Uwer from the company Cenit commented.

Before the event drew to a close with a reception, Prof. Dr. Scherer, Dean of the International Culture and Management Department and Dr. Hartung, Professor for International Culture and Management at the CBS, spoke on the topic of negotiation in a cross-cultural context and looked at European negotiation techniques in relation to the practices in other countries.

Master of Arts student and research assistant for Prof. Fröhlich's Chair, Sabine Grimm, was also more than satisfied: "The intense preparatory work was worthwhile. The symposium was profitable for the students and the guests and has provided a solid foundation for a healthy exchange of views. After the official programme, discussions continued for a considerable time at the get together. Moreover, some students had the opportunity to meet good contacts for an industrial placement later."

Negotiation techniques are also incorporated in the CBS curriculum independent of such special events. The combination of business lectures, foreign languages and competences such as negotiation skills provides the students comprehensive preparation for their working life which qualifies them additionally against their competitors.

Symposia are therefore a fixed component in the CBS' academic calendar and are held regularly. You can find pictures of the event here.