Multiparty negotiations can be difficult to manage if you are unprepared for the formation of coalitions. Two-party and multiparty negotiations share some important similarities: the goal of discovering the zone of possible agreement, for example. However, there are some key differences that set them apart. As soon as the number of parties increases past two, coalitions are likely to form. Coalition formation requires specific preparation. Engaging in multiparty negotiations means thinking ahead about how to build a winning coalition, and how to organize a blocking coalition to defend against hardball tactics. Because coalition dynamics play a critical role in multiparty negotiations, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has developed a variety of simulations to help teach coalition management in multiparty negotiations. Three of the TNRC’s most useful multiparty negotiation simulations are Chestnut Village, the Three-Party Coalition Exercise, and the Mouse Exercise.
This two hour, multi-party, multi-issue negotiation between 3-4 construction company representatives and 5-6 neighborhood representatives is over safety and nuisance complaints regarding a local construction project. Internal team negotiations precede external negotiations. Major lessons include:
- How to prepare with your negotiating team in multiparty negotiations. What is your BATNA? What is theirs? What are their major interests likely to be? What are ours? How do we best communicate all of this? Should we consult before deciding?
- Meeting design and group process. How do groups work together to prepare for a negotiation? Set an agenda? Set strict time limits? And how do they work together in the ultimate meeting? How do they avoid divide and conquer tactics or distractions that keep them from focusing on any one point? How do they get commitment?
- Representing and dealing with a representative of a constituency without firm authority. Can the negotiators really commit their neighbors? How should the participants deal with that? Can either party really agree to what the other one wants?
This one hour, three-party, scoreable negotiation is among representatives of three organizations over the integrative and distributive aspects of a possible 2- or 3-party coalition. Major lessons include:
- BATNA calculation. Each participant has the information he or she needs to calculate the expected value of various deals.
- The power of seemingly “weak” players can be enhanced through the creation of blocking coalitions.
- The exercise can also be used to raise questions about the basis for arbitrating multi-party disputes.
This four hour, seven-party, multi-issue negotiation is among an American theme-park developer, a French national government representative, neighboring mayors, and a regional organization over the development of a proposed theme park outside of Paris. Major lessons include:
- Expand participant understanding of the variety of elements that arise in multiparty, multi-issue negotiations, particularly when held in an international or multicultural setting.
- Participants should recognize the increased need for preparation and sensitivity in terms of understanding the viewpoint/ values of counterparts from other cultures.
- The exercise is structured so that each party will have certain expectations of the other parties, which may or may not be correct. These expectations will include general impressions of what it is like to negotiate with the French or with the Americans, as well as more specific pre-conceptions about the other parties.
In addition to offering more than 200 negotiation role-play simulations, the TNRC offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including:
TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes. They are used in college classroom settings or corporate training settings; used by mediators and facilitators seeking to introduce their clients to a process or issue; and used by individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.
Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Our videos, books, case studies, and periodicals are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.