HackerStar Negotiation, The


Morgan Guaranty Trust Company

Realistic video depicting the use of principled negotiation to prepare for and negotiate a bitter business dispute, featuring Getting to YES co-author Roger Fisher



In The HackerStar Negotiation, two improvisational actors play the roles of Allen Hacker and Stanley Star, partners in a small software company called HackerStar, Inc. Hacker and Star are engaged in a dispute over PowerScreen, a new product that Hacker developed against Star’s wishes. Hacker contends that he developed PowerScreen on his own time, using the company equipment only outside of business hours for debugging, and that he owns exclusive rights to the product. Star argues that, according to Hacker’s employment contract, he owes all of his creative energy to the company and that PowerScreen therefore belongs to HackerStar, Inc.

The video, which is unrehearsed and unscripted, follows Hacker and Star from a bitter fight regarding PowerScreen, through their separate advising sessions with their attorneys, and then to the final negotiation with both clients and attorneys present. Harvard Law School Professor and Getting to YES co-author Roger Fisher acts as Hacker’s attorney, while experienced Boston litigator Ann Berry acts as Star’s attorney. After lengthy negotiations, the parties reach an amicable agreement (though their only instructions were to “settle or not as you wish, but don’t get taken”).



This video, which includes a set of teaching notes, provides a rich set of data for analyzing and evaluating different preparation and negotiation styles. It also depicts the use of principled negotiation to prepare for and resolve a dispute, with a particular emphasis on Roger Fisher’s “Seven Elements” of negotiation (detailed in Fisher and Ertel’s Getting Ready to Negotiate, a companion workbook to Fisher, Ury and Patton’s classic Getting to YES.

The background facts for The HackerStar Negotiation are identical to those in the PowerScreen Problem role simulation, also available from the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC). The video may either be used by itself or in conjunction with The PowerScreen Problem.



HackerStar Negotiation, The Attributes

Time Required:
1-2 Hours
Teaching Notes Available:
Run Time:
85 Minutes
Produced By:
Harvard Negotiation Project
Morgan Guaranty Trust Company (1985)

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 will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

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 301-528-2676 (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 301-528-2676 (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, 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.