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.

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This negotiation training module includes two separate two-person, non-scorable negotiation simulations focused on efforts to combat HIV/AIDs.  The first is a negotiation entitled “Negotiating with Another Federal Agency” between a Center for Disease Control (CDC) Technical Co-Chair and a USAID Technical Co-Chair.  The second is entitled “Negotiating with the Ministry of Health” and is between a CDC Technical Co-Chair and the Minister of Health in Sabada, the (imaginary) host country.  The focus is on cross-cultural and political perspectives on public health initiatives.


The simulation highlights the challenges faced by public health personnel when working with their political counterparts in host countries.  The game is designed to help CDC-type personnel practice negotiation techniques in order to effectively collaborate with personnel from other US federal agencies and with government officials in a host country.  The negotiation scenarios involve elements that CDC personnel often face in the field: ill-defined negotiating protocols, funding constraints, preference for evidence-based programming, inter-agency competition, tensions around headquarter authority, political considerations, time constraints, difficult personalities, and in particular, competing public health priorities.  The game emphasizes the importance of preparation; in particular, thinking about one’s own interests before entering negotiations. 


The CDC and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and are working with Sabada’s Ministry of Health to address the country’s significant HIV/AIDS challenge. Parties must come to agreement about 1) how the prevention and treatment funds will be shared between the two agencies, and 2) how to allocate $55 million among four HIV/AIDS relief programs in a limited timeframe.




The simulations are designed to be played sequentially. Each simulation requires two people, and two hours to play for each exercise: 15 minute introduction, 30 minute role preparation, 30 minute negotiation, 45 minute debrief



Teaching Notes

General Instructions (2 sets)

Confidential Instructions for:

USAID, CDC Technical Co-Chair, MIH, CDC Technical Expert



Back Tables, BATNA, Communication, Creating Joint Gains, Cross-Cultural Communication Interest analysis, Options, Packaging, Preparation, Role Simulations, Quantifying Interests, Relationships, Sharing Interests, Trading across issues



• negotiation preparation is an organizational not just an individual task

• internal disagreements not to be tended to before external negotiations begin

• arguments based on quantitative assessments of results won’t be convincing unless they also take account of the other side’s interests



Negotiating with Another Federal Agency Attributes

Time required:
4 hours (total, for both simulations)
Teams involved:
Agent present:
Neutral third party present:
Teaching notes available:
Larry Susskind (MIT), Ona Ferguson, and Meredith Sciarrio
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 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, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 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.