By Dr. David Rock, Beth Jones & Chris Weller

Not too long ago, 62 employees at a major consultancy found themselves getting called into a room in pairs, neither person having any prior relationship to the other, for what they were told was a role-playing exercise. Researchers asked them to sit across from each other. Participants then learned they weren’t assigned to be collaborators, but adversaries — opposing sides engaging in a mock negotiation to buy or sell a biotechnology plant. They had six minutes to haggle over the price, and heart-rate monitors would track the ups and downs of the argument.

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