Values and identity-based disputes are particularly challenging, as identities are naturally inflexible and values are typically much less elastic than interest-based claims. In conventional interest-based negotiation, parties often can and do give up one thing in exchange for getting something they value more – this is often not possible in value-based or identity-based disputes. Furthermore, value and identity-based disputes are often riddled with emotions and histories of distrust and animosity. Parties are not just fighting for their interests, but for their core identities and rights.
Many negotiation professionals believe that value and identity-based disputes around such issues as ethnic tension post-civil war or the rights of minorities like gays and lesbians cannot be fully resolved via dispute resolution. Well-run processes can, however, greatly increase mutual understanding, build trust, and identify opportunities to enhance coexistence.
The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers a variety of role-play exercises that involve value- and identity-based disputes. In some cases, values and identities make conventional disputes around interests more difficult. For example, in the Beaumont Incinerator Exercise participants grapple with issues of environmental justice as they consider what is fair compensation for a community. In other cases, the dispute directly revolves around value or identity differences. For example, in Baker & Irwin v. Department Of Human Services participants debate whether or not a gay couple may act as foster parents. The TNRC also offers a variety of videos on values and identity-based disputes.