Corporate Decision-Making Negotiation Role-Play:

Case of the Puerile Printer

Albie Davis and Ericka Gray
Six-party mediation with employees, employer, and legal counsel over the contested result of a sexual harassment grievance procedure

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SCENARIO:

Six months ago, Liza Brown filed a grievance with Systech’s Human Resource manager. She claims that every time she had to go into the back room of the print shop either to pick up or drop off documents she felt extremely uncomfortable because of the suggestive, and even pornographic, calendars hanging in the back room. Liza says that the printer also began to make suggestive comments and even brushed up against her unnecessarily. At that point Liza complained to the print shop manager who told her to keep out of the back room if it bothered her. The results of the grievance procedure that Liza filed were a reprimand in the printer’s file and orders for Liza to avoid the print shop. Liza believes that she has been denied a promotion since her grievance procedure because this situation gave her a reputation as a trouble-maker. Since Liza is unhappy with the results of the grievance procedure she asked to enter a formal mediation with an outside mediator, which is allowed in Systech’s policy manual.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • This scenario makes it easy to slip into a negative, reactive mode, with unsatisfactory outcomes resulting.
  • Those parties willing to consider the perceptions and interests of the other party as relevant can usually engage effectively in mutually beneficial joint problem-solving.
  • Participants can discuss how partisan perceptions affected their acceptance of differing interpretations of the case, and how they tried to educate the other members of their group as to their perceptions.
  • Fairness and power imbalance questions are triggered by the issues of sexual harassment in the exercise. These two problems can be specifically addressed, or they can be broadened to serve as a base for a discussion of difference issues in negotiating.
  • Some of the managers have to decide how much information they wish to reveal. Where do their loyalties lie?

 

MECHANICS:

At least 7 players are required. This exercise takes 45-60 minutes to run it is suggested that the participants will need 20 minutes to prepare and 30-60 for debriefing.

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; Anchoring; Coalitions; Consensus building; Grievance procedures; Meaning of “success”; Systems of negotiation

 

Case of the Puerile Printer Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
7
Teams involved:
Yes
Agent present:
Lawyer
Neutral third party present:
Mediator
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
No
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

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If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

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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.).

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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.