Salvaging the deal

By — on / Daily, Negotiation Skills

The Clearinghouse at PON offers hundreds of role simulations, from two-party, single-issue negotiations to complex multi-party exercises. Tendley Contract is a two-party integrative contract negotiation between a computer consultant and a school district representative at an apparent impasse over different expectations over cost of services.

SCENARIO: A school district and a computer consultant are negotiating a potential contract for repair of the school district’s failed computer network. Both parties are eager to work with each other: the consultant’s qualifications appear perfect for the school district’s needs, and the school district would help the consultant connect with additional governmental clients. After a fair amount of negotiation, however, the parties find themselves at an impasse: the consultant’s bid (which the consultant feels is very low) is considerably higher than the school’s budget for this project. The consultant and a school representative have agreed to meet one last time in an effort to salvage the deal.

This simulation happens to involve a consulting contract, but the negotiation lessons are generic. The exercise can be used simply to illustrate the importance of the creative, option-generating aspect of negotiation. More importantly, it can also be used as the principal vehicle for presenting integrative theory more broadly.

MECHANICS: This case can be prepared and conducted quickly. Allow 5-15 minutes for preparation, 10-30 minutes for negotiation, and 20-45 minutes for debriefing.


  • Confidential Instructions for:
    • Representative for the Tendley school district
    • The consultant
  • Teacher’s Package includes:
    • All of the above
    • Teaching Note (English version only)

PROCESS THEMES: breaking impasses, creating options, identifying interests, transforming problems from zero-sum to non-zero-sum, mutual gains, linkage to other possible deals, building a long-term relationship.


  • This exercise is an excellent vehicle for comparing interest-based negotiation and positional bargaining. Conventional offer/counteroffer positional bargaining will almost always fail in this case.
  • Joint problem-solving and creative option generation can help overcome an apparent negotiation impasse.
  • Creative option generation can involve rescoping the task, rescoping the time frame, and trading on different priorities, among other possibilities.

To purchase this role simulation, click here.

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
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