Corporate Decision-Making Negotiation Role-Play:

Bunyon Brothers

Mark Gordon, Elizabeth Gray, and Bruce Patton
Three-party, multi-issue internal corporate negotiation in preparation for external negotiation with community representatives

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Free review copies of non-English Teacher’s Packages will be emailed upon request. Please contact tnrc@law.harvard.edu  or telephone 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.)

SCENARIO:

Four weeks ago, the Bunyon Brothers Construction Company began work on a 77-unit condominium complex at the end of a quiet, wooded, dead-end street named Chestnut Drive. All permits were properly, if quietly, obtained, and the quality of construction is high. Some resistance from the neighborhood was, of course, expected, but tempers now seem to be unusually high and a credible threat has developed of neighbors blocking the site access. The Company’s General Counsel has scheduled a meeting with a neighborhood “negotiating committee.” In preparation, he has scheduled an internal planning meeting with the Vice Presidents for Construction Management and for Marketing and Development. The exercise revolves around their three-party meeting.

NOTE: This exercise is an intra-team negotiation and is one of the two sides that makes up the exercise Chestnut Village (the other side is the exercise Chestnut Drive).

 

MECHANICS:

The Company officers should meet for 45-105 minutes. A break after 45 minutes for a presentation on intra-group process can be useful. After the completion of these preparation sessions, the groups should meet with one or more neighbor representatives (one or more of the officers at a time, however they chose in their planning session). Neighbors can be played by the instructor(s) or by other participants who have prepared as neighbors in the context of Chestnut Drive. Instructors can model various styles of negotiation. These negotiation sessions usually run about 20 minutes each. Different groups of executives and neighbors can continue by the substitution method (taking over where things left off) or by starting over.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • General Instructions

 

Role specific:

Confidential Instructions for the:

  • General Counsel
  • V.P. for Marketing and Development
  • V.P. for Construction Management

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; Authority; BATNA; Commitment; Communica- tion; Compliance; Constituents; Currently perceived choice analysis; Education, as a means; Force; Group process; Media; Meeting design; Precedents; Preparation; Public opinion; Reality testing; Threats; Yesable propositions

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

This case focuses on two major themes. The first is preparation. What is your BATNA? What is theirs? What are their major interests likely to be? What are ours? What does their choice look like now? How, realistically, could we change it? What can they actually do? What can we do? How do we make it as easy as possible for them to do what we want, and hard for them to do otherwise? How do we best communicate all this? What yesable propositions do we have for them? Should we consult before deciding?

The second theme is meeting design and group process. How do three people work together to prepare for a negotiation? Set an agenda? Set strict time limits? Use a flipchart and a recorder? A facilitator? Separate inventing from deciding? And how do they work together in the ultimate meeting? Should they? How do they avoid divide and conquer tactics or distractions that keep them from focusing on any one point? How do they get commitment?

Another important theme is the problem of dealing with a representative of a constituency who does not have firm authority. The neighbor negotiators cannot really commit their neighbors. How should the Bunyon Brothers deal with that? Can either party really agree to what the other wants?

The case also raises the question of relationship and reputation. Both sides have important long-term interests.

 

Bunyon Brothers Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
3
Agent present:
Lawyer
Teams involved:
No
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
No
Non-English version available:
Spanish
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.).

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Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, then you should order a single Teacher’s Package for that role simulation. A PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package is also available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. There is no need to order participant materials as well as a Teacher’s Package, as all Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters. Please note that the materials in Teacher’s Packages are for the instructor’s review and reference only, and may not be duplicated for use with participants.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.