A fast food chain in your historic town?

By on / Daily, Negotiation Skills

The PON Clearinghouse offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises.  The following role simulation is a two-team, multi-issue negotiation between representatives of a restaurant conglomerate and a neighborhood organization over zoning requirements for a possible fast-food restaurant in a historic university neighborhood.

The City of Lamebridge in the State of Ames is well known for its two major universities, political activism, and controversial city ordinances – such as the one banning “fast-food restaurants” from certain commercially zoned areas. This ordinance was enacted in response to tremendous pressure from a community organization called “Save Our Square” (SOS), whose mission is to preserve the character and sanctity of certain parts of Lamebridge, and especially the world-renowned Harkness Square.

For some time, McMillin’s Corporation, which operates the largest fast-food chain in the world, has sought permission from the Lamebridge Zoning Commission to build a McMillin’s fast-food restaurant in Harkness Square. The zoning commission has repeatedly refused McMillin’s requests, largely because of pressure from SOS. McMillin’s has now threatened to sue the zoning commission for a regulatory taking.

As a last-ditch effort to avoid litigation, and at the urging of the Lamebridge City Council, representatives of McMillin’s and SOS have agreed to meet to try to strike a deal. The major issues to be negotiated are:

  • Aesthetic considerations, including the type and color of bricks used to construct the restaurant and the size and location of McMillin’s trademark “platinum M”;
  • Traffic congestion and parking problems;
  • Safety concerns, such as the possibility of attracting loiterers;
  • Predatory pricing, which could drive local restaurants out of business; and
  • Workers’ rights, including compensation and age minimums.

Participant materials include:

  • General instructions
  • Confidential instructions for:
    • Spokesperson(s) for Save Our Square (SOS)
    • Spokesperson(s) for McMillin’s Corporation

Teacher’s package includes:

  • All of the above
  • [Teaching note forthcoming]

To purchase this role simulation, click here.

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