Business and Commercial Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Least-Cost Planning Exercise

Clinton Andrews and Lavinia Hall
Six-party, multi-issue mediation among electric utilities, consumer interests, environmentalists, and mediator with technical expertise, over the best way to meet increased demands for electricity

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Free review copies of non-English Teacher’s Packages will be emailed upon request. Please contact tnrc@law.harvard.edu  or telephone 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 781-966-2751 (outside the U.S.)

SCENARIO:

The electric company, GENCO, has seen its capacity reserve margin drop from 40% to a mere 20% above peak load over the past 10 years. This decrease brings the company uncomfortably close to the minimum level necessary to maintain adequate service reliability. The imbalance between the availability of and demand for electricity has spawned various solutions which include conservation/demand-side management, gas- and oil-fired generation and coal-fired plants, provided either by the utility or an independent power producer. A mediator (Professor Calme), and a party representative from GENCO (the electric company), NOPE (a consumer group), the Public Utility Commission, CLEAN (an environmental group) and IPP (an independent power producer) will attempt to reach a consensus on a project proposal.

 

MECHANICS:

This exercise is best played with six players (one per role). Preparation should take at least 30 minutes and the negotiation should last 60 minutes. Debriefing should take at least 60 minutes.

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • The prospects for achieving joint gains is illuminated in this exercise. When parties value issues differently, they can create trades which benefit both parties and facilitate an acceptable agreement.
  • This game provides an opportunity to analyze the effect of coalitions on a negotiation, especially blocking coalitions. Adding a neutral allows for discussions of how parties use mediators/facilitators.
  • Many aspects of mediation in a multi-party, public policy dispute can be brought into focus, including: maintaining open communication, focusing the discussion on interests rather than positions, packaging options, and the development of a single-text procedure.
  • Issue of representation can be explored, since each of the players represents a group or institutional constituency. Each representative has a mandate which aids or constrains his or her ability to negotiate.
  • Parties that reveal their true interests do not necessarily do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all of one’s concerns are illustrated in this game.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

For all parties:

  • General Instructions

 

Role specific:

Confidential Instructions for:

  • President of GENCO
  • Spokesperson of NOPE
  • Director of Electric Power Planning
  • State Public Utility Commission
  • Senior Attorney at CLEAN
  • President IPP
  • Professor Calme (Mediator)

 

Teacher’s Package (26 pages total):

  • All of the above

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Agenda control; BATNA; Caucusing; Closure; Coalitions; Commitment; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Consensus building; Delay tactics; Group process; Information exchange; Interests, dovetailing; Issue control; Joint gains; Managing uncertainty; Objective criteria; Partisan perceptions; Pressure tactics; Public opinion; Risk aversion; Systems of Negotiation; Time constraints; Utility analysis; Yesable propositions

 

Least-Cost Planning Exercise Attributes

Time required:
1-2 hours
Number of participants:
6
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present:
Mediator
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
No
Non-English version available:
Portuguese, Spanish
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.

The purchase price and handling fee are the same for both soft and hard copies. Soft copies do not entail a shipping fee.

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.