Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

67 Fish Pond Lane

Elizabeth Gray, Mark Gordon and Bruce Patton
Two-party distributive and potentially integrative negotiation between principals over the sale of a house

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Free review copies of non-English Teacher’s Packages will be emailed upon request. Please contact tnrc@law.harvard.edu  or telephone 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.)

SCENARIO:

67 Fish Pond Lane in Cambridge, MA was purchased five years ago for $95,000 by two lawyers. Since then, its value has at least doubled. The owners, expecting to stay for some time, kept the house in excellent condition and added several unique features, including an elegant high-tech aviary for exotic birds. The owners recently moved to California, however, and the house has been on the market for a month. Two graduating business school students are interested in purchasing the house. One or both of them plan to meet with one or both of the owners while the latter are in town for a few days to see if a sale can be arranged.

MECHANICS:

The exercise is a little more natural as a one-on-one negotiation with absent partners, but two-on-two negotiations also work and provide some interesting team dynamics. All instructions are neutral as to sex and marital status.

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • Map

 

Role specific:
Confidential Instructions for:

  • Buyer(s)
  • Seller(s)

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching note

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • This exercise usually generates difficult negotiations. In this familiar context the stakes seem large, and while there are many objective criteria on point, they are neither fully consistent nor determinative. The tendency to haggle is strong, and a variety of bargaining tactics can be used. Review can explore which tactics were effective under what circumstances, and why.
  • Many important concerns and legitimate criteria in the case are intangible and/or difficult to measure. This raises the question of how arguments can persuasively be turned into numbers.
  • The exercise is a good one for focusing closely on what specific events cause parties to change their offers, and what brings them to the point of closing the deal.
  • A discussion of deadlines, their effects and how to create them, is usually appropriate.
  • Comparison of results also raises questions about what techniques, attitudes and tactics produce more competition and/or animosity? How does amicability correlate with pareto optimality of results?
  • A variety of questions are raised concerning the concept of BATNA. How does a party’s perception of its BATNA affect conduct in the negotiation? How should it? How can BATNAs be improved? When is it ethical to try to change the other side’s BATNA for the worse? When not? What are some ways of doing that?
  • This exercise also facilitates a rich post-mortem consideration of how the parties might have prepared better.

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Anchoring; BATNA; Bluffing; Closure; Commitment; Fairness; Information exchange; Interests, dovetailing; Interests, quantifying; Joint gains; Legitimacy; Misrepresentation; Objective criteria; Offers, first; Reservation price; Systems of negotiation

 

67 Fish Pond Lane Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
2
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
Yes
Non-English version available:
French, German, Spanish, Norwegian
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 tnrc@law.harvard.edu 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 http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at tnrc@law.harvard.edu, 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.