Public Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Chestnut Drive

Bruce Patton and Mark Gordon
Six-party, multi-issue, intra-group negotiation among neighbors in preparation for an external negotiation regarding a local construction project

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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:

Four weeks ago, Bunyon Brothers Construction Company began work on a 77-unit condominium complex at the end of a quiet, wooded, dead-end street named Chestnut Drive. The residents of Chestnut Drive were surprised and angered by this development, but, after some inquiry, concluded that there was little that could be done. Now, however, the construction process has once again brought their tempers to a boil. The neighbors’ complaints include: the excessive noise from blasting, dangerously speeding trucks, the lack of a fence around the project area, foul language and habits among the construction workers, and damage to windows and at least one foundation allegedly caused by the blasting. They have elected a six-member negotiating committee consisting of a retired executive, a lawyer, a cab driver, a dentist, a small businessman, and a carpenter. The lawyer has set up a meeting of the community group with the Bunyon Brothers General Counsel. This exercise revolves around the neighbors commit- tee’s preparation meeting.

NOTE: This exercise is an intra-team negotiation and is one of the two sides that makes up the exercise Chestnut Village (the other side is the exercise The Bunyon Brothers).

 

MECHANICS:

After individual preparation, groups of (roughly) six neighbors meet for about 90-105 minutes preparing to negotiate with Mr. Murphy of the Bunyon Brothers Company. A message is delivered to the lawyer 10 minutes into the session informing him that a newspaper reporter would like a statement. The group must choose whether or not to spend time on this, and if so, how much. A break after 45 minutes for a presentation on meeting design and group process is often effective. By that point, participants are familiar with the problem and interested in any insights that might be helpful in their remaining preparation time. At the end of the preparation period, groups traditionally have 20-minute negotiating sessions with Mr. Murphy or a management team from the Bunyon Brothers Company, often played by the instructor(s) demonstrating various negotiation styles. The negotiating sessions can be run serially, with one group picking up where the last left off, or consecutively, in either case with the rest of the class observing and thinking how they would proceed differently. An alternative to the instructor demonstration is to have groups of prepared neighbors negotiate with representatives of the Bunyon Brothers Company who have prepared Case No. 10004.0, The Bunyon Brothers.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • This case focuses on two major themes. The first is preparation. What is your BATNA? What is theirs? What are their major interests likely to be? What are ours? What does their choice look like now? How, realistically, could we change it? What can they actually do? What can we do? How do we make it as easy as possible for them to do what we want, and hard for them to do otherwise? How do we best communicate all this? What yesable propositions do we have for them? Should we consult before deciding?
  • The second theme is meeting design and group process. How do six people work together to prepare for a negotiation? Set an agenda? Set strict time limits? Use a flipchart and a recorder? A facilitator? Separate inventing from deciding? 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?
  • Another important theme is the problem of representing a constituency without firm authority. Can the negotiators really commit their neighbors? How should the Bunyon Brothers deal with that? Can either party really agree to what the other one wants?
  • The case also raises the question of relationship and reputation. Both sides have important long-term interests.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • General Instructions

 

Role Specific:

Confidential Instructions for the:

  • Cab Driver
  • Carpenter
  • Retired Executive
  • Shopkeeper
  • Dentist
  • Lawyer
  • Telephone Message to Lawyer

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above
  • Draft Teaching Note

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; Authority; BATNA; Commitment; Communication; public vs. private; Compliance; Constituents; Crisis decision- making; Currently perceived choice analysis; Delay tactics; Education, as a means; Emotions; Force; Group-think; Group process; Media; Meeting design; Preparation; Public opinion; Threats; Yesable propositions

 

Chestnut Drive Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
6
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
Yes
Non-English version available:
French, Spanish, Hebrew
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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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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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.