Scientifically Proven: You Should Eat While You Negotiate

You may always have suspected this: Eating together increases the overall value of the outcome of negotiations. But now, you have Harvard’s stamp of approval on your gut feeling.

The study by Lakshmi Balachandra comprised two experiments. The first compared simulated business negotiations conducted by MBA students that took place over a meal in restaurants to negotiations in conference rooms, without any food to eat. In the second, negotiations were conducted with or without a meal in a business conference room. The eaters created greater value than the non-eaters.

Eating out does, however, not increase the value created in a statistically significant way: Individuals who negotiated in restaurants created 12% greater profits and those who negotiated over food in a conference room created 11% greater profits, the study found.

Ms. Balachandra says that she will conduct further studies and refine her experiments. I have some ideas for hypotheses for her to test in future studies: the influence of the quality of food, and the impact of wine…

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