Bruce PattonSix-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:
- Teams involved:
- Agent present:
- Neutral third party present:
- Teaching notes available:
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center
Soft copy vs. hard copy
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (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, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. 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.
Ordering copies for multiple participants
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 “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.
If you are ordering hard copies, 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 “Quantity.” 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.