$0.00 – $6.00
Six-person, multi-issue mediation between two construction company representatives and two neighborhood residents over a construction project's safety and noise issues; mediated by two representatives of the bank financing the construction
Four weeks ago, the 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. All permits were properly, if quietly, obtained, and the quality of construction is high. Some resistance from the neighborhood was, of course, expected, but tempers now seem to be unusually high and a credible threat has developed of neighbors blocking the site access. The Company’s General Counsel and VP of Public Affairs has scheduled a meeting with a dentist and a lawyer representing the neighborhood “negotiating committee.” Two representatives of the largest bank in town will also attend the meeting to attempt to facilitate a resolution of the problem.
NOTE: This exercise is similar to the exercise Chestnut Village, however, in this case local bankers act as mediators.
Participants representing each side, as well as the mediators, should prepare for 45-90 minutes. A break for a presentation on intra-group process can be useful. After the completion of these preparation sessions, negotiations begin in groups between the two neighborhood representatives, the two construction company representatives, and the two local bank representatives. Between an hour and an hour and one-half should be allocated to the negotiation session. In debriefing the negotiations, instructors may discuss the effectiveness of the preparation sessions, the techniques used by the mediators, how the parties moved toward commitment and how the negotiations might have proceeded had they been bilateral without mediators present.
- This case focuses on three 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 groups work together to prepare for or conduct a negotiation? Set an agenda? Set strict time limits? Use a flip chart and a recorder? A facilitator? Separate inventing from deciding? And how do teams work together in the ultimate meeting? How do they get commitment?
- The third major theme is mediation and facilitation. What process should be used by the bank’s representatives to facilitate a resolution of the problem? Should they meet with each side separately, or all together? To what extent would caucuses be useful? How should a team of mediators divide up responsibilities? What techniques are particularly effective for third-party mediators? How can these techniques be used by negotiators mediating their own disputes? Another important theme is the problem of dealing with a representative of a constituency who does not have firm authority. The neighbor negotiators cannot really commit their neighbors. How should the Bunyon Brothers and the Bank deal with that? Can either party really agree to what the other wants?
- The case also raises questions of relationship, precedent, and reputation. All sides have important long-term interests.
Confidential Instructions for:
- Bunyon Brothers VP of Public Affairs
- Bunyon Brothers General Councel
- Neighborhood lawyer
- Neighborhood dentist
- Representatives of the Bank (for two participants to serve as mediators)
- All of the above
Agenda control; Authority; BATNA; Caucusing; Commitment; Communication; Compliance; Constituents; Currently perceived choice analysis; Education, as a means; Emotions; Force; Group process; Media; Mediation; Meeting design; Precedents; Preparation; Public opinion; Reality testing; Threats; Yesable propositions
Construction in Bunyonville Attributes
|Time required:||1-2 hours|
|Number of participants:||6|
|Neutral third party present:||None|
|Teaching notes available:||No|