Bruno Verdini Trejo Receives Program on Negotiation Howard Raiffa Doctoral Student Paper Award

The doctoral dissertation by graduating interdisciplinary doctoral student, Bruno Verdini Trejo, “Charting New Territories Together: Laying the Foundations for Mutual Gains in United States - Mexico Water and Energy Negotiations” is the recipient of the 2015 Program on Negotiation Howard Raiffa Doctoral Student Paper Award. The annual prize is awarded to a doctoral student author of the best research paper on a topic relating to negotiation, competitive decision-making, dispute resolution, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution. The student must be enrolled at a graduate or professional school affiliated with The Program on Negotiation (PON).

Based at Harvard Law School, PON is a consortium program of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University, with scholars and students from numerous fields of study, including law, business, government, psychology, economics, anthropology, the arts, and education. The prize was established by PON in 2008 in honor of Professor Howard Raiffa, Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Managerial Economics, Emeritus. Professor Raiffa was one of the founders of the Program on Negotiation.

Bruno's doctoral dissertation examines two landmark negotiations between the United States and Mexico. The first involves the conflict over the shared hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico. The second analyzes the dispute over the shared waters of the Colorado River. For over seventy years, pursuing unilateral development, the U.S. and Mexico alternated between deadlock and confrontation in both cases. However, they were able to buck this trend in 2012, reaching two significant agreements. In turn, the two sides have established a binational framework through which to co-develop and jointly manage these transboundary natural resources.

With interviews with over 70 negotiators in the U.S. and Mexico, the doctoral research explores how the negotiators shaped these agreements, and in what ways they contributed to the resolution of these long-standing disputes. The dissertation incorporates cognitive and emotional insights from negotiation, mediation, and conflict resolution; strategies from the practices of adaptive leadership and collaborative decision-making; and observations about the narrative structure of compelling political communication.

The research was conducted under the outstanding mentorship of Professor Lawrence E. Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning (MIT) and Vice-Chair, Program on Negotiation (Harvard Law School); Professor Melissa Nobles, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, Department Head, Political Science (MIT); and Dr. Steven Jarding, Lecturer in Public Policy, Center for Public Leadership, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government).