Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Harborco

Denise Madigan, Thomas Weeks, and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, multi-issue, scoreable negotiation among representatives of a port developer, labor union, environmental coalition, other regional ports, governor's office, and department of coastal resources over a proposal to build a new deep-water port

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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:

Harborco is a consortium of development, industrial, and shipping concerns interested in building and operating a deepdraft port. It has already selected a site for the port, but cannot proceed without a license from the Federal Licensing Agency (FLA). The FLA is willing to grant Harborco a license, but only if it secures the support of at least 4 of 5 other parties: the environmental coalition, the federation of labor unions, a consortium of other ports in the region, the Federal Department of Coastal Resources (DCR), and the Governor of the host state. The parties have several issues to negotiate before deciding whether or not to approve the port, including the types of industries that will be be permitted to locate near the port, the extent to which environmental damage be mitigated, the extent to which organized labor will be given preference in hiring during construction and operation of the port, the amount of any federal financial assistance to Harborco, and the amount of any compensation to other ports in the region for potential economic losses?

 

MECHANICS:

This game is best played with 12 people (2 per role) although 6 people also works. A game manager is needed to conduct periodic votes and to answer questions. Game instructions require at least 30 minutes to read; more preparation is helpful. Negotiations require a minimum of 2 hours. However, the more time allowed for negotiation, the better.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • When the game is played by several groups at the same time, the comparison of outcomes is instructive. Typically, some groups will reach agreement and some will not. Very few groups will reach unanimous (6-way) agreement.
  • Players are exposed to elementary utility analysis in the point scoring scheme. The importance of pre-negotiation analysis in evaluating options is illustrated. The players can then explore how and why different negotiating strategies led to different outcomes.
  • Multi-issue, multi-party negotiations tend to involve the formation of coalitions–especially blocking coalitions. This game provides an instructive context for exploring coalition strategies.
  • Parties that reveal their true interests do not necessarily do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all one’s concerns are illustrated in this game.
  • Pareto-superior and Pareto-inferior agreements are illustrated by the scores.
  • When 12 players play the game (2 per role) they have an opportunity to explore the special difficulties of negotiations involving non-monolithic parties.
  • The need for a neutral “process manager” of some sort is also illustrated, as the parties struggle to structure their discussions.
  • The advantages of caucusing can be explored. In some cases, players will initiate caucuses; in others, they will avoid private caucusing.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • General Instructions

 

Role specific:
Confidential Instructions to the Negotiator for:

  • Harborco
  • Other Ports
  • Environmental League
  • Union
  • Federal DCR
  • Governor

 

Teacher’s package (67 pages total):

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Note
  • Game Review Chart

 

Please note that this exercise is included in the Resolving Public Disputes package, also available through the Clearinghouse.

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; Authority; BATNA; Bluffing; Caucusing; Coalitions; Commitment; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Constituents; Delay tactics; Information exchange; Joint gains; Media; Mediation; Meeting design; Misrepresentation; Monolithic vs. non-monolithic parties; Objective criteria; Offers, first; Pareto optimization; Political constraints, dealing with; Pressure tactics; Reservation price; Systems of negotiation; Time constraints; Utility analysis

 

Harborco Attributes

Time required:
2-3 hours
Number of participants:
6
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
Yes
Teaching notes available:
Yes
Non-English version available:
Dutch, German, Norwegian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Polish, Czech
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You are then permitted to view the document on your computer and either print the number of copies you purchased, or forward the electronic file as many times as the number of copies you purchased. You will only receive a link to one electronic file per document. So, if you order 25 soft copies, you may either forward copies of the link to 25 people via e-mail, or print (and/or photocopy) 25 hard copies of the document.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

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.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

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.