Regulation Negotiation Role-Play:

Gadgets, Inc.

Cheri Peele and Lawrence Susskind
Six-party, four-issue negotiation among a company's management and union representatives, environmental groups, and state and federal environmental agencies over fines and adoption of new technology in response to the company's illegal polluting

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SCENARIO:

Over the past eight months, Gadgets, Inc. (‘Gadgets’), a metal plating firm, has failed to comply with state regulations on the concentrations of copper and lead in their waste water. Gadgets’ required monthly reports to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been accurate, but the violations were overlooked by DEP for the first five months. When DEP noticed Gadgets’ violations three months ago, it demanded immediate compliance and five months worth of fines.

Gadgets officials were surprised and upset. Citing economic hardship, past good faith efforts and its role in the local economy, Gadgets requested a delay in paying the fines while it explored options for rectifying its pollution problem. DEP initially agreed, but has now come under fire from environmental activist.

In the midst of this situation, the Innovative Technology Program (‘ITS’) of DEP has announced a new system for pollution prevention. ITS has been looking for a middle-sized firm to test its new system and DEP has ordered Gadgets to install this new system for further testing. The environmental activists now believe that Gadgets is getting off the hook, and that the system has not been sufficiently tested for use in a working firm.

Following the procedures of DEP’s Innovative Technology Program, the Environmental Secretary’s Special Assistant has called a meeting of interested parties to discuss four issues: (1) the choice of a pollution prevention technology; (2) a possible DEP subsidy for the installation of the new pollution prevention system at Gadgets; (3) the payment of fines by Gadgets; and (4) the frequency of and responsibility for monitoring of compliance by Gadgets. In addition to the Environmental Secretary’s Special Assistant, the meeting will include representatives from Gadgets management, the Gadgets workers’ union, two environmental activist groups, and the EPA.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

This case provides a useful context for examining the dynamics of regulatory, particular compliance, negotiations. It also for examination of multi-party negotiation dynamics, such as coalition building and blocking, meeting design, and caucusing. Because there is a wide range of possible agreements, it can be interesting to compare agreements (and non-agreements) reached by different groups. The presence of scientific and technical uncertainty raises issues about the value of contingent agreement.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • General Instructions
  • Schedule of potential fines for Gadgets Inc.

 

Role Specific:

  • Gadgets Inc. Vice President
  • Gadgets Inc. Workers Union President
  • Chief Water Scientist for Newberg Bay
  • Director of Deep Green environmental body
  • Environmental Protection Agency representative
  • Environmental Secretary Special Assistant

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above

 

KEYWORDS:

Multi-party negotiation; regulatory compliance; science-intensive policy disputes; environmental dispute resolution

 

Gadgets, Inc. Attributes

Time required:
30 minutes – 1 hour
Number of participants:
6
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
Yes
Teaching notes available:
No
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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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.