Dealing with an Angry PublicThe Mutual Gains Approach to Resolving Public Disputes

original

Lawrence Susskind & Patrick Field

Winner of the 1996 CPR Award for Excellence in ADR (Outstanding Book Category)

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Some portion of the American public will react negatively to almost any new corporate initiative, as Disney discovered when it announced its plans to build an historical theme park in Virginia. Similarly, government efforts to change policy or shift budget priorities are invariably met with stiff resistance. In this enormously practical book, Lawrence Susskind and Patrick Field analyze scores of both private and public-sector cases, as well as crisis scenarios such as the Alaskan oil spill, the silicone breast implant controversy, and nuclear plant malfunction at Three Mile Island. They show how resistance to both public and private initiatives can be overcome by a mutual gains approach involving face-to-face negotiation, a strategy applied successfully by over fifteen hundred executives and officials who have attended Professor Susskind’s MIT-Harvard “Angry Public” seminars.

Susskind and Field outline the six key elements of this approach in order to help business and government leaders negotiate, rather than fight, with their critics. In the process, they show how to identify who the public is, whose concerns to address first, which people and organizations must be convinced of the legitimacy of action taken, and how to assess and respond to different types of anger effectively. Acknowledging the crucial role played by the media in shaping public perception and understanding, Susskind and Field suggest a way to develop media interaction which is consistent with the six mutual gains principles, and also discuss the type of leadership that corporate and government managers must provide in order to combine these ideas into a useful whole.

We all need to be concerned about a society in which the public’s concerns, fears, and anger are not adequately addressed. When corporate and government agencies must spend crucial time and resources on rehashing and defending each decision they make, a frustrated and angry public contributes to the erosion of confidence in our basic institutions and undermines our competitiveness in the international marketplace. In this valuable book, Susskind and Field have produced a strong, clear framework which will help reduce these hidden costs for hundreds of executives, managers, elected and appointed officials, entrepreneurs, and the public relations, legal, and other professionals who advise them.

 

“Wonderfully subversive of the established order. Among other things, this book will transform the nature of public life while rendering obsolete the field of corporate public relations.” – John Marks, President, Search for Common Ground

“For every corporate attorney and any CEO whose company has more than 100 employees, this is real world process and problem-solving.” – Judith Kroeger, President, Kroeger Associates

“Executives, governmental leaders, public relations professionals, attorneys, and others need to read this book before they are in the midst of their next crisis. It will provide the basis for seeking reason in the sea of emotion that accompanies most conflicts.” – Max H. Bazerman, J. Jay Gerber Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University

“Offers a new approach to old problems. A virtual jumping off the path for companies in finding a route to problem solving.” – Larry Marullo, director, External Affairs, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company

“Sets forth a powerful strategy for dealing with the major public policy controversies. This book is the perfect antidote to an increasing tendency to polarize issues and escalate tensions.” – Frank E.A. Sander, Bussey Professor and Associate Dean, Harvard Law School

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lawrence E. Susskind is Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT, President of the Consensus Building Institute, and one of America’s most experienced public dispute mediators.

Patrick T. Field is a Senior Associate of the Consensus Building Institute, and a Research Associate of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Project.

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.

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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.).

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.