Roger Fisher, a pioneer in the field of international law and negotiation and the co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project, died on August 25, 2012. A professor at Harvard Law School for more than four decades, Fisher established negotiation and conflict resolution as a field deserving academic study and devoted his career to challenging students and colleagues alike to explore alternative methods of dispute resolution.
Fisher’s work laid the foundation on which much of the field of negotiation and conflict resolution has been based. His best-selling book, “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In” (co-authored with William Ury in 1981), has been translated into 23 languages and has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. Prior to the publication of “Getting to Yes,” there were almost no regular courses in negotiation taught at academic institutions. Now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of courses devoted to negotiation.
“Through his writings and teaching, Roger Fisher’s seminal contributions literally changed the way millions of people around the world approach negotiation and dispute resolution,” said HLS Professor Robert Mnookin, chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. “He taught that conflict is not simply a ‘zero-sum’ game in which a fixed pie is simply divided through haggling or threats. Instead, he showed how by exploring underlying interests and being imaginative, parties could often expand the pie and create value.”
Robert C. Bordone said: “Roger was a master at the art of perspective-taking, of understanding how deep human needs—to be heard, valued, respected, autonomous and safe—when unmet or trampled upon, become seeds of evil and violence, seeds that can cause us to vilify each other, and that motivate us to see the world in stark black-and-white terms. For Roger, the purpose of perspective-taking was never to excuse or justify evil. Rather, it was a way to discover new approaches to diplomacy, to influence and to understanding.”
Here is the complete interview by Robert Benjamin of Roger Fisher, author of “Getting to Yes” and other negotiation and dispute resolution books and founder of the Harvard Project on Negotiation, filmed for the Mediate.com Eye of the Storm Video Series.
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