Negotiating for a Song in Nashville
Elizabeth Long Lingo, assistant professor in the Foisie Business School, was a PhD candidate at Harvard studying negotiations by day and hanging out with her singer-songwriter husband at music sessions by night when she noticed something about music production.
“I watched real-life negotiations unfold and saw how much ambiguity, passion, ego, and soul went into the production of music,” she says.
Her observation later led to a remarkable research project: For seven years, while she and her husband lived in Nashville, Long Lingo studied how established and aspiring music producers navigate a constellation of relationships with record label executives, writers, singers, musicians, and others to record songs.\
“Once you understand how music producers successfully manage people with different talents and opinions to create songs, you can apply the insights and techniques to other industries.” – Elizabeth Long Lingo
The result was a new understanding of entrepreneurial leadership that she calls “creative brokering”—a way of mobilizing and directing teams of creative experts with competing viewpoints to produce something novel and of value. It’s a model of leadership that can be used to produce success in industries other than country music, she says.
“The process music producers use to manage tensions, help team members stay committed, and elicit expertise and input from stakeholders relies on emotional intelligence,” says Long Lingo, who is an expert on negotiation and organizational behavior. “Once you understand how music producers successfully manage people with different talents and opinions to create songs, you can apply the insights and techniques to other industries.”
As part of her research, she even wrote and produced her own song, “‘til Quitting Time,” about a waitress.
“Obviously, I am not a songwriter,” she says with a laugh, “but my research is all about experiences, and I can’t write about something until I’ve done it.”
An article on her research appeared in Journal of Management Studies in March 2020.