Negotiating for Money: Adding a Dose of Reality to Classroom Negotiations


Roger J. Volkema is associate professor of management at the Kogod School of Business at American University and with the Instituto Coppead de Administraçaõ, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. His e-mail address is


Negotiation and conflict management courses have become increasingly common in business schools around the world. Frequently, these courses employ role plays and simulations to encourage students to try new strategies, tactics, techniques, and behaviors. While these simulations generally are designed to elicit realistic negotiation dynamics, they often lack the full emotional tension inherent in actual negotiations. One possible reason for this reduced tension is that no tangible resources, such as money, are at stake. This article describes an experiment in which MBA students paid a player's fee at the beginning of a negotiation course, and in which each negotiation exercise had an actual dollar value at risk. The article reports some results from this experiment and offers suggestions for instructors who might seek to add a player's fee to their own courses. In general, most students found the experience valuable, as it provided performance benchmarks while focusing their attention more sharply on risks and returns.