Science-Intensive Policy Disputes Negotiation

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Uncertainty and disagreement around the causes of problems or the likely efficacy of various solutions cloud many public policy disputes. Stakeholders often turn to science for a solution, hoping that definitive answers will be found. Unfortunately, scientific data often complicate rather than clarify, as differences in interpretation or methodological preferences lead to different answers. Furthermore, experts and other stakeholders perceive important factors like risk differently, and questions of legitimacy regularly enter the equation.

The Program on Negotiation promotes techniques like ‘joint fact-finding’ and ‘decision analysis’ to help groups work through science-intensive policy disputes. Science still plays a very important part, but questions around such things as method, legitimacy, valuation and interpretation, all in the face of conflicting interests, are put on the table and discussed, and research is often jointly commissioned.

Materials in the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) introduce alternative approaches to working through science-intensive policy disputes. For example, in the Dioxin: Waste to Energy Game proponents of a new incinerator believe it will solve the city’s garbage problem with little risk while opponents are concerned about the dioxin-related health risks. A group of scientists with various opinions on the matter is assembled to draft recommendations, raising issues around which metrics to use, uncertainty, legitimacy and risk perception. Various books by PON-affiliated authors are also available to guide parties through science-intensive policy disputes. For example, Negotiating Environmental Agreements includes case studies on various environmental policy disputes in which debates around the science played a prominent role.

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Case Studies & Articles

Gina Coplon-Newfield

This case study provides an intimate view into the fierce battle among major US nonprofit environmental groups, Members of Congress, and industry over energy policy in 2007. The resulting law slashed pollution by raising car efficiency regulations for the first time in three decades. For negotiators and advocates, this case provides important lessons about cultivating champions, neutralizing opponents, organizing the masses, and using the right message at the right time.

Role Simulations

Role Simulation
Todd Schenk under the supervision of David Fairman, David Plumb, Lawrence Susskind, Philip Angell, and Kelly Levin
Eight-party negotiation (with option for a ninth person facilitator) regarding climate change issues in a situation loosely based on the situation in Ghana.
Role Simulation
Catherine Preston and Lawrence Susskind
Five-issue negotiation between three factory representatives and three Federal Environmental Agency representatives over the factory's new operational agreement, in the context of harsh public criticism of both parties
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Chemco, Inc.

Wendy Pabich and Lawrence Susskind
Six-person, five-issue negotiation between three industrial factory representatives and three environmental agency representatives over environmental and economic concerns in the wake of damaging negative publicity for both parties
Role Simulation
Community Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Dioxin - Waste to Energy Game

Denise Madigan, Steve Foster, and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, multi-issue negotiation among four scientists, a city representative, and an environmentalist to develop the city's solid waste management strategy; also known as: Dioxin: Resource Recovery.
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

DirtyStuff I

Lawrence Susskind
Five-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among industry, environmental, labor, and government representatives to develop single-text regulation of toxic industrial by-product
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

DirtyStuff II

Jeffrey Litwak and Lawrence Susskind
Six-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among industry, environmental, consumer/community, labor, and government representatives to develop single-text regulation of toxic industrial by-product
Role Simulation
Regulation Negotiation Role-Play:

Gadgets, Inc.

Cheri Peele and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, four-issue negotiation among a company's management and union representatives, environmental groups, and state and federal environmental agencies over fines and adoption of new technology in response to the company's illegal polluting
Role Simulation
Global Treaty-Making Negotiation Role-Play:

Global Management of Organochlorines

Lawrence Susskind, Sarah McKearnan, Mike Gordon, Adil Najam, Joshua Secunda, Granville Sewell, Parag Shah and Andrea Strimling
Thirteen-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among eight country representatives, four NGO representatives, and a working group chairperson must draft a treaty aimed at reducing harmful organochlorines; also known as "Chlorine Game"
Role Simulation
Public Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

HumboldtMediating a Regional Development Dispute

Lawrence Susskind
Eight-person, multi-issue mediation among regional government, environmental, development, and business interests regarding environmental and economic tradeoffs and ethical issues in the development of a manufacturing plant
Role Simulation
Science-Intensive Policy Disputes Negotiation Role-Play:

IndopotamiaNegotiating Boundary-Crossing Water Conflicts

Catherine M. Ashcraft under the supervision of Professors Lawrence Susskind and Shafiqul Islam
Role Simulation
Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Least-Cost Planning Exercise

Clinton Andrews and Lavinia Hall
Six-party, multi-issue mediation among electric utilities, consumer interests, environmentalists, and mediator with technical expertise, over the best way to meet increased demands for electricity
Role Simulation
Science-Intensive Policy Disputes Negotiation Role-Play:

Long RiverConfronting the Challenges of Instream Flow

Catherine Ashcraft and Larry Susskind
A six-party, seven-person (including the mediator), multi-issue mediation among representatives of governmental, business, environmental, recreational, and tribal interests regarding a dispute over developing an instream flow action plan
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border

Lawrence Susskind
Two-team, ten-person, multi-issue, co-chaired negotiation between representatives of two adjacent countries regarding the transboundary management of a severe water shortage crisis
Videos and Audio, Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

National Energy Policy Simulation

Eric Jay Dolin, Daniel Greenberg and Lawrence Susskind
Highly complex multi-party, multi-issue negotiation among political, industry, environmental, and consumer leaders and lobbyists to develop a detailed proposal to reduce U.S. vulnerability to changes in energy prices and supply
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Negotiating with Another Federal Agency

Larry Susskind (MIT), Ona Ferguson, and Meredith Sciarrio
Two, separate, two-person, non-scorable negotiations: one between Technical Co-chairs from the Center for Disease Control and USAID; the other between a CDC Technical Co-Chair and the Minister of Health in the imaginary host country of Sabada.
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Negotiating with the Ministry of Health

Larry Susskind (MIT), Ona Ferguson, and Meredith Sciarrio
Two, separate, two-person, non-scorable negotiations: one between Technical Co-chairs from the Center for Disease Control and USAID; the other between a CDC Technical Co-Chair and the Minister of Health in the imaginary host country of Sabada.
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Offshore Wind Farm Negotiation

MIT Students in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, under the supervision of Prof. Lawrence Susskind and Dr. Herman Karl
8-party nonscorable negotiation among commercial, environmental, and governmental stakeholders over a controversial proposal to develop offshore wind farms
Role Simulation
Elizabeth Fierman under the supervision of David Fairman, David Plumb, Lawrence Susskind, Philip Angell, and Kelly Levin
Eight-party negotiation (with option for a ninth person facilitator) regarding climate change issues in a situation loosely based on the situation in Viet Nam.
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Radwaste I

Tod Loofbourrow, Lawrence Susskind, Denise Madigan and Wendy Rundle
Seven-party, multi-issue, scoreable negotiation among regulatory, environmental, tribal, local government, and industry representatives to choose criteria for selecting a low-level radioactive waste disposal site
Role Simulation
Environment and Sustainability Negotiation Role-Play:

Radwaste II

Tod Loofbourrow, Lawrence Susskind, Denise Madigan and Wendy Rundle
Six-party, multi-issue negotiation among state and local government, enviromental, and industry representatives to select one of three sites for low-level radioactive waste disposal
Role Simulation
Leah C. Stokes, Lawrence Susskind, and Noelle E. Selin
This mercury game is a role-play simulation aimed at scientists, students and decision makers. Playing the game will help participants explore the consequences of representing scientific uncertainty in various ways in a policy context.
Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Water on the West Bank

Susan Podziba and Lawrence Susskind
Seven-person, four-issue mediation among three Israeli water authority and regional representatives and three Palestinian water authority and political representatives over plans to drill a new well on the West Bank
Role Simulation
Health / Medicine / Pharmaceutical Negotiation Role-Play:

Williams Medical Center

Eileen Babbitt and Lawrence Susskind
Five-party negotiation among representatives of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and administrators to develop recommended changes to the drug prescription policy of a large metropolitan teaching hospital
Role Simulation
Game Theory and Negotiation Analytics Role-Play:

Win As Much WATER As You Can!

Catherine Ashcraft
Four-person, scoreable, prisoner’s dilemma game where players decide how to handle low water levels in 10 quick rounds; an adaptation of the case “Win As Much As You Can.”
Role Simulation
Steven Maser
Five- or six-person, multi-issue, facilitated negotiation among federal agency, state government, environmental, and industry representatives over the regulation of woodstove emissions; optional sixth role for industry association counsel

Video and Audio

Videos and Audio, Role Simulation
International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

National Energy Policy Simulation

Eric Jay Dolin, Daniel Greenberg and Lawrence Susskind
Highly complex multi-party, multi-issue negotiation among political, industry, environmental, and consumer leaders and lobbyists to develop a detailed proposal to reduce U.S. vulnerability to changes in energy prices and supply

Books

original
Book
An annual compilation of research papers addressing a range of transboundary environmental negotiation issues

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