Cross-Cultural Role-Play:

Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border


Lawrence Susskind

Two-team, ten-person, multi-issue, co-chaired negotiation between representatives of two adjacent countries regarding the transboundary management of a severe water shortage crisis


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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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 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, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 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.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


The fictional countries of Pablo and Burford face a water crisis brought on by extreme water quality and quantity problems. The dismal water situation is largely a result of unsustainable agricultural activities in the borderlands separating the two countries.

Two years ago, the Presidents of Pablo and Burford instructed the responsible national authorities to prepare a sustainable agricultural and water protection plan. Since then, the Burford Environmental Department and the Pablo Agriculture Department having been working to organize a joint summit to negotiate the framework of such a plan. In the midst of summit planning, a new controversy regarding agrochemical pollution of borderland groundwaters emerges. The summit now has been scheduled for six months earlier than originally planned.

The summit will be co-chaired by representatives of the Burford Environmental Department and the Pablo Agriculture Department. The other participants include the Governor of the Burford border state of Grady and representatives from a number of national and international NGOs with interests in groundwater policy. The agenda includes nine decision items, and the participants are expected to reach agreement by at least a two-thirds vote on all nine items.



  • Importance of agenda control
  • Power of option creation
  • Repercussions of voting procedures on the content and sustainability of the outcome
  • Importance of reaching agreement on terms and scientific facts before negotiating
  • Impact of BATNA on the negotiation



For all parties:

  • General Instructions and Information for All Parties
  • Issues to Resolve
  • Pablo-Burford map
  • Appendices A-E (Country Information, Hydrology, Location of Borderland Aquifers, Glossary, and Evaluating Zine)
  • Additional Reading References



  • Confidential instructions for representatives of:
  • BED (Burford's federal environmental regulatory agency)
  • BIO (an international consortium of 72 biotech companies)
  • CONSUME (a small anti-hunger NGO in Pablo)
  • EARTH (an international consortium of environmental NGOs)
  • FARM (Burford Farm Association)
  • Chet Freeman (Governor of the Burford border state of Grady)
  • PAD (Pablo Agricultural Development)
  • SUSTAIN (a nonprofit of sustainable agriculture organization from the Burford border state of North Rhine.
  • TRADE (a Pablo agribusiness trade alliance)
  • UNION (National Farmer's Union of Pablo)


Teacher's Package (110 pages total):

  • All of the above
  • Game Manager Position Summary Sheet



Multi-party negotiation; science-intensive policy disputes; transboundary environmental disputes; water quality and quantity negotiations; cross-cultural negotiations; facilitation



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Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border Attributes

Time required: 5 or more hours
Number of participants: 10
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: No
Non-English version available: Spanish