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Israel Unterman Papers

Identifier: MS-0382

Scope and Content Note

The Israel Unterman Papers comprise Unterman’s teaching, research, and professional files. The bulk of the materials date from Unterman’s time as a professor of management at San Diego State University (1976-1989). Each series and sub-series represents different activities/exercises Unterman initiated during his career at SDSU. Exercises like: the negotiation marathon, the NASA game, and a collection of tapes engaged in international negotiations. Materials in this collection include, mostly, an accumulation of documents pertaining to class activities and exercises held, with a lesser number of writings in draft and published forms, and a few correspondences. The collection is arranged into six serieses: Course Files, Case Studies, Negotiations, NASA Game, Subject Files, and Audio/Video Materials. Each series follows a chronological order of items, except NASA Game, Subject Files, and the Audio/Video Materials arranged alphabetically. Series I, Course Files dates from 1982 to 1989 and contains SDSU course syllabi and a course proposal about the need to conduct a seminar in international negotiations. Courses such as Management 467 also include case books that contain the syllabi and case studies utilized for negotiation exercises. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Series II, Case Studies dates from 1963 to 1988 and contains documents that were intended exercises for discussion based learning about negotiation methods. The earlier case studies that date before Unterman’s employment with SDSU are published by Harvard College. While a Professor at SDSU, the case studies were either written by Dr. Unterman, Dr. Unterman and his wife Ruth, or a student of SDSU’s College of Business Administration advised by Dr. Unterman. Some of these cases reflect an international aspect to negotiation by having the case’s written institution reside in a country outside of the United States; like, the Middle East, Mexico, and Japan. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Subseries 1, For-profit organizations, dates from 1963 to 1988 and consists of case studies of profit-driven institutions used for classroom instruction. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Subseries 2, Not-for-profit organizations, dates from 1969 to 1987 and consists of case studies of not-for-profit organizations used for classroom instruction. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Subseries 3, Negotiations, dates from 1961 to 1987 and consists of case studies and exercices in negotiation used for classroom instruction. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Series III, Negotiations dates from 1967 to 1989 and contains correspondence, conference materials, and draft papers. The series includes Unterman's statistical evidence in support of the claim that negotiation is a skill that could be taught. Within this series are documents, notes, drafts, and correspondences about the negotiation marathon (founded by Unterman, a one-day workshop pitting top business executives against MBA students from SDSU), Unterman’s paper presented to the National Academy of Management (“Negotiating: A Skill in Strategic Management; Can it be Taught?”), and the negotiation conference at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia. Some papers relate to Unterman’s professional files in Central America. Also included are documents and classroom materials about cross-cultural negotiations, communication and body language, and national negotiation styles. This series is arranaged in chronological order.

Series IV, NASA Game dates circa 1986 and contains documents pertaining to a specialized classroom exercise in international negotiation. The NASA game developed as a cross-cultural negotiation project using what is known as the spaceship case. “The purpose of this activity is to participate in a research study of cross cultural negotiation between two groups. Each group will have one hour to prepare their negotiation around the material the coordinator is about to distribute. The American group is designated as detail ‘A’ – piloted the ship. The non-American group is designated as detail ‘B’ – trained as explorers.” This series is arranaged in alphabetical order.

Series V, Subject Files contains articles from Unterman or other scholars, the Minority Business Education “EBAN” Report written by Unterman (“Education in Business Administration for Negroes”), the “Training and Education for Equal Business Opportunities” Report with pages written by Unterman, newspaper clippings about Unterman or other scholars, books written by other scholars, and subject specific papers about business policy and strategic planning written by Unterman. This series is arranaged in alphabetical order.

Series VI, A/V Materials dates from 1985 to 1989 and contains a collection of video and cassette tapes where trade representatives and students engaged in negotiation sessions. This series is a compilation of Dr. Unterman’s own tapes and some tapes received from other universities (including the University of Vienna, the University of Geneva, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University and the University of Southern California). These videotapes present visual documentation of gestures, expressions and body language utilized during negotiations. A couple of the tapes’ negotiations derive from the negotiation marathons Unterman held at SDSU. Dr. Unterman most likely constituted these tapes as an educational resource for his courses and advising during speaking engagements with the U.S. Government. This series is arranaged in alphabetical order.


  • Creation: 1961 - 1989

Biographical Note

Israel Unterman (1921-1989) was a professor of management and consultant to governments and international businesses whose work focused on strategic management, public policy and negotiations.

Unterman was born in Gdańsk, Poland and moved with his family to New York when he was two years old. He obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York in 1942 and volunteered for military service during World War II, working with Army Intelligence in the European theater.

After the war, Unterman returned to New York and began his business career as Chairman and President of Unterman Associates, Inc. and worked as a stockbroker and financial consultant involved in mergers and acquisitions. He received a degree in European Studies from Cornell University in 1948 and a CLU from American College in 1951. Unterman quit business in 1965 to pursue studies at Harvard Business School and obtained a Doctorate of Business Administration in 1968. Afterwards, he taught management classes for several years at the Central American Institute of Business Administration founded by Harvard University.

Unterman joined the faculty of San Diego State University in 1976 as a professor of management in the College of Business. There he founded an annual negotiation marathon pitting top business executives against M.B.A students during a one-day workshop. He also developed a curriculum for teaching cross-cultural negotiation with a grant from the Department of Education. He led and participated in hundreds of workshops, seminars, and conferences.

In addition to his academic work, Unterman was a consultant to the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, working with officials including the rank of ambassador on ways to improve the skills of U.S. negotiators. He was also an international management consultant to corporations, institutions and governments in Japan, Latin America, and Europe.

Unterman's most significant publications include Strategic Management of not-for-profit Organizations: From Survival to Success, American Finance: Three Views of Strategy, and Negotiating: A Skill in Strategic Management; Can it be Taught?

Israel Unterman died age 68 on December 1, 1989 at his home in La Jolla, California.


5.2 Linear Feet (Ten Hollinger boxes and one records carton)

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Israel Unterman Papers
In Progress
Laura Scott
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US