The Best New Simulations

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Looking to update your curriculum with innovative new simulations? Check out these new simulations from the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC).

Ren the Robot – New Simulation 

Ren the Robot is a one-and-a-half hour, two-party, multi-issue negotiation between a Tokyo-based robotics company, Grubotics, and a U.S.-based tech company, Delivered, over a potential acquisition deal. It is designed to be conducted using online video conferencing. The use of online video conference technology highlights the conveniences of such tools, but also the potential pitfalls and different comfort levels negotiators can have with this technology.

Delivered is an app-based service that matches independent food-delivery drivers with customers who want delivery from their favorite neighborhood restaurants. While originally only available in the US, Delivered now operates in major cities all over the world. Already a globally successful company before the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing stay-at-home orders caused an explosion in Delivered’s popularity. Many restaurants, however, were forced to close permanently during the stay-at-home period, while others who successfully pivoted to entirely take-out-based orders had difficulty keeping up with demand. As restaurants were permitted to reopen for in-person dining, a severe labor shortage left them desperate for servers and cooks and many establishments were unable to maximize business in the face of pent-up demand. Delivered is seeking to invest some of its newly increased development budget in innovative technologies in order to address some of these issues.

Grubotics is a Japanese robotics company, which makes food-preparation robots. “Ren”, the food-preparation robot, has an internal refrigerator, which holds fresh produce and other ingredients. It can combine these ingredients into custom salads, noodle bowls, and other dishes. Prior to the pandemic, Grubotics robots were primarily used in universities, hospitals, and grocery stores. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a massive increase in their use by restaurants and convenience stores, which were looking for a way to address the labor shortage and also for a method to dispense fresh food without human contact. A relatively young company with only 20 employees, Grubotics has had difficulty scaling up and meeting the surging demand for its food-preparation robots. It is therefore beginning acquisition negotiations with Delivered to seek an influx of capital to help meet demand and expand into new markets.

Major teaching lessons include:

  • Navigating the dynamics of technology, and technological preferences. The use of online video conference technology in this negotiation highlights the conveniences of such tools, but also potential pitfalls and different comfort levels parties can have with online video negotiation.
  • Negotiation process management and agenda setting. This simulation teaches participants to think strategically about how to set an agenda in a negotiation. Do you start with the most important issues to your side first? Or do you start with an issue you think likely to get an agreement on to build momentum? Since the parties prioritize issues in the negotiation differently, participants must not only think about how their side ranks the issues, but also how their counterpart might rank them.
  • Openings in a negotiation, the pre-anchoring phase, and momentum-building. Asking questions in the beginning of a negotiation to gather information about the other party’s interests is useful for participants to better formulate an initial offer and set up the negotiation to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  • Defining BATNAs in the face of substantial uncertainty. This negotiation requires both sides to think critically about what their best fallback option is as well as what the other party’s alternative might be.
  • Cross-cultural communication. This negotiation deals with conflicting cultural expectations and how expectations about culture can impact a negotiation.
  • Managing relationship dynamics and the possibility of a future relationships in a negotiation. This simulation highlights the impact that expectations about ongoing relationship can have on positions taken during a negotiation.

Download a free Ren the Robot Teacher’s Package preview copy to learn more about this new simulation.

Camp Lemonnier – New Simulation

This two party, three hour, non-scoreable negotiation is between the U.S. Defense Attaché and the Djiboutian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs over the potential lease renewal for a key strategic military base: Camp Lemonnier. Camp Lemonnier is a United States Naval Expeditionary Base located in Djibouti and is the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Djibouti, bordering Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, has been home to Camp Lemonnier since the September 11, 2001 attacks prompted the United States to seek a temporary staging ground for U.S. Marines in the region. Since then, Camp Lemonnier has expanded to nearly 500 acres and is a base of unparalleled importance. The 2014 negotiations between the U.S and Djibouti over the lease renewal for Camp Lemonnier were complex and involved national security, public relations, and economic development issues. Major lessons of this simulation include:

  • The importance of understanding the BATNA of all parties in a negotiation.
  • The impact of culture in negotiation.
  • Process management and agenda setting.
  • Principal-agent dynamics.
  • Uncovering sources of power in negotiation.

Preview a Camp Lemonnier Teacher’s Package to learn more about this simulation.

Euro-Idol – New Simulation

This four-party, two-round international business negotiation is over the selection of the host country and city for the upcoming Euro-Idol music competition. Euro-Idol is the longest-running international singing competition featuring contestants from European and other invited countries. Every year, each participating country independently conducts a national song competition to choose its country’s “Idol” to represent it at Euro-Idol. Hosting the Euro-Idol competition is one of the most prestigious and sought-after events a country and city can bid for, often compared to hosting the Olympics or the World Cup. Euro-Idol has the potential to bring economic benefit and prestige to cities that are granted this privilege. Typically, the winning country of the previous year’s competition has priority in conversations about hosting, if they choose to be considered. But this pattern was disrupted after the 2020 competition was cancelled, due to coronavirus. Now, countries are free to directly apply to host Euro-Idol’s competition. After a country is chosen by the Euro-Idol Corporation, it is up to the country to choose the city. The Kingdom of Denion is entering the negotiations with the Euro-Idol Corporation in an attempt to secure hosting the upcoming competition.

This negotiation takes place in two rounds. The first round is between the Euro-Idol Corporation and the prospective host country of Denion. If the Euro-Idol Corporation and Denion can come to an agreement, the second round of negotiations takes place between the cities of Bardane and Eindborg, as well as the Denion Office of Special Events, to determine which city will host the competition. Major lessons of this simulation include:

  • Acquire competencies in negotiation preparation, defining BATNA, process, management and agenda setting, uncovering interests, sequencing and packaging issues, and uncovering sources of power in negotiation.
  • Acquire skills in negotiating based on changing information and/or information decided by others.
  • Understand sequencing issues between rounds and how to build momentum for a deal.
  • Negotiate effectively in a process set up to incentivize winner take all (a bidding process).
  • Manage waxing and waning relevance.

Preview a copy of the Euro-Idol Teacher’s Package to learn more about this simulation.

Pearl River – New Simulation

This facilitated, multi-issue negotiation simulation for eight or nine participants is about the management of five dams in the hypothetical Pearl River basin. This science-based negotiation simulation provides an opportunity for learning about and discussing larger-scale management of ecosystems, use of scientific data and modeling in environmental decision-making under uncertainty, and consensus-based negotiations over water resources. This simulation includes the Pearl River system dynamics model application, which simulates environmental and economic outcomes under different dam management alternatives.

The Pearl River basin is a coastal basin that includes the Pearl River and its tributary, the Mill Creek. Multiple stakeholders with diverse interests and concerns are interested in the dam-related issues in the basin. There are three hydropower dams on the Pearl River and two non-hydropower dams on Mill Creek. All dams have varying levels of fish passage, ranging from no passage to adequate passage. Dam A on Mill Creek is owned by the Town of Allen and has recently received a Notice of Public Safety from the State Water Resources Division (State WRD). The town must decide how to address the Notice and whether it makes sense to consider the future of other dams in the Pearl River basin as it makes its decision.

State WRD invited representatives from six other stakeholder groups to participate in a Working Group (for a total of seven stakeholder groups): the Federal Agency of Natural Resources (Federal ANR), the Historic Preservation Agency of the State (State Historic), Rivers-R-Us (an environmental nongovernmental, non-profit organization), the Allen Pond Homeowners Association (representing property owners along Allen Pond, the impoundment created by Dam A), HydroEnergy, LLC. (the hydropower developer which owns the three hydropower dams on the Pearl River), and the Town of Allen (which owns two non-hydropower dams on Mill Creek). The Working Group also includes one or two facilitators who will help manage the meeting. The main goal of the meeting is to develop a “Work Plan” for the future of Dam A and possibly for the other dams in the Pearl River basin. To support the Group’s efforts, a local university developed and shared a novel system dynamics model, which simulates the impacts of different decisions on fish populations, hydropower generation, and project cost. Negotiators can access the model during the negotiation via a web-user interface. The Working Group looks forward to using the model to find agreement on the following three decisions:

  • Which dams should be included in the Work Plan and what dam management alternatives should be considered?
  • Who is responsible for implementing the Work Plan?
  • Who pays to implement the Work Plan?

The municipal, state, and federal officials have indicated they aim to act on the Work Plan if at least six out of the seven stakeholders support the agreement. If fewer than six stakeholders support the recommendations, the Town of Allen will decide on its own about next steps to respond to Dam A’s notice of deficiency. Key lessons of this simulation include:

  • Sustainable solutions to conflicts over dams meet multiple stakeholders’ interests and receive broad political, community, and financial support for implementation.
  • Dam decisions are multi-issue negotiations that involve linked social and ecological systems, feedbacks over spatial and temporal scales, many stakeholders, overlapping legal and procedural frameworks, and scientific uncertainty.
  • The most successful dam decisions pay careful attention to preparation, including ensuring the right parties participate, are prepared, and interact throughout to bring both expert and local/experiential knowledge to bear on the decision.
  • A negotiation agenda should include opportunities for stakeholders to share information about quantifiable interests and non-quantifiable interests, time to brainstorm multiple alternatives and develop new alternatives, and time to agree on performance criteria for deciding between alternatives.
  • Linking decisions across multiple dams within a river system can expand the range of alternatives available to meet multiple interests and optimize across social, economic, and environmental tradeoffs, as compared to making decisions about a single dam at a time.
  • Dam decisions should be informed by credible scientific data about the likely impacts of decisions. A system dynamics model can provide information about the likely impacts of choices, such as how the decision to focus on one dam or a series of dams will affect outcomes for fish, cost, and hydropower generation.
  • A neutral party can provide critical process management services before, during, and after decisions.

Preview a copy of the Pearl River Teacher’s Package to learn more about this simulation.

Rose Lane – New Simulation

This two-party, email-based, multi-issue issue negotiation deals with a dispute between neighbors over one sharing their home on a home-sharing website, and having difficult conversations in relationships with low trust. A resident of the picturesque town of Pottenstein, Germany is frustrated with their neighbor’s listing of their home as a property on the popular home-sharing site, HomeBNB, due to the prevalence of large parties, noise pollution, and the general disruption of the formerly quiet neighborhood.

Schmidt, a branch manager of a local bank, reaches out via email to their next-door neighbor, D. Harberer, about the use of their home on the popular home-sharing site, HomeBNB. Schmidt has grown increasingly frustrated by the prevalence of frequent large groups of rock climbers, who party and play music late into the night. Schmidt and Haberer met two years ago when Haberer first bought the property but have not had contact since. Schmidt has attempted to reach out to Haberer through various channels but has not been able to make contact with Haberer. Schmidt once attempted to contact Haberer through HomeBNB but was notified that the house was not rented through HomeBNB at the time of the complaint. Haberer does not know anything about the raucous parties and entrusts rental management to their daughter, Julia.

Frustrated with their inability to contact Haberer, Schmidt mobilized the neighborhood’s social media group where they initially received significant support. Haberer has been notified by Julia that Schmidt has talked about Haberer, by name, on social media, something that Haberer has taken great offense to. After two years of increasing frustration, Schmidt has reached out to the local government and was surprised with their response: come to a resolution within 30 days or we’ll bring your case to the larger governing body and make a region-wide ruling.

Schmidt and Haberer will email each other to see if they can find a resolution to this conflict. For both parties, their alternatives if they are not able to find agreement with one another are not good. For Schmidt, going to the City Council would be a lose-lose outcome. If the City Council rules to restrict home sharing within the region, Schmidt is worried they will be the focal point for an angry and desperate public. If they do not restrict home sharing, they face an uncertain future: they feel sure they can’t continue to live next to the Haberers, but they also can’t afford to move. On the other hand, Haberer feels very certain that the government will rule in favor of Schmidt and increase restrictions on home sharing. If this were to happen Haberer is not sure what they would do – they’re not financially ready to retire and move to Rose Lane, but they can’t afford to sell their house. Major lessons of this simulation include:

  • Identifying challenges related to negotiating via email and generating strategies to overcome these challenges.
  • Negotiating with very weak alternatives (BATNA).
  • Having difficult conversations in relationships with low trust.

Preview a copy of the Rose Lane Teacher’s Package to learn more about this simulation.

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Take your training to the next level with the TNRC

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including

TNRC negotiation exercises and teaching 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.

Negotiation exercises and 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 students to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation.

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