A Negotiation in Middlemarch

32 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2020

See all articles by Daniel Read

Daniel Read

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Thomas Hills

University of Warwick

Date Written: September 14, 2020


We analyse a negotiation drawn from George Eliot’s great novel Middlemarch: A story of provincial life. Eliot was one of the finest chroniclers of social interaction, and understood the process of negotiation and its role in the community perhaps as well as anyone. The negotiation in question is between a wealthy banker and one of his former associates who sets out (or perhaps just ends up) blackmailing him. We use this case to discuss a wide range of negotiation principles, and show how it provides insights into the importance of the prenegotiation, the role of preparation, empathy and the fostering of relationships (even when you would prefer not to), and the problems of focusing on one’s own BATNA rather than your counterparts’. We conclude with six key negotiation lessons for the fictional negotiator (and for us), and with a brief account of how both fictional and “non-fictional” negotiations can contribute to our understanding of how to learn about and improve negotiation practice.

Keywords: Negotiation

Suggested Citation

Read, Daniel and Hills, Thomas, A Negotiation in Middlemarch (September 14, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3692389 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3692389

Daniel Read (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Thomas Hills

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

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