Business and Commercial Role-Play:

Rushing River Cleanup


Bruce Patton

Three-party, scoreable, single-issue negotiation among three manufacturers over two- or three-party coalitions for complying with waste cleanup regulations; variation of Three-Party Coalition Exercise


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.).

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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.

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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
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Acme, Borland, and Chemco are three companies with neighboring manufacturing facilities each of which is under an E.P.A. order to clean up their waste discharge into the Rushing River. The cleanup process requires a treatment plant. The three companies could build individual plants or joint plants in any combination of two or three of them. There is no single salient criterion for splitting the costs, and all possible coalitions are unstable–subject to disruption by one party making an offer to another that should not, economically, be refused.

NOTE: The underlying mathematical structure of this case is similar to that of the exercises The Parking Facility Venture, Social Services and Three-Party Coalition Exercise.



This game is designed for three participants, one per role. Minimum preparation time is about 30 minutes; an hour or two is better. The negotiation can be scheduled for 15-30 minutes. An additional party can be added to the case as a mediator, either from the beginning or at any time during the negotiation. Before or after the negotiation, participants should be asked to read "Coalition Analysis," Chapter 17 in The Art and Science of Negotiation by Howard Raiffa (Harvard University Press, 1982). The mathematical structure of the exercise is thoroughly and clearly discussed there.



  • For all parties:
    • General Instructions
  • Teacher's package:
    • All of the above
    • Teaching Note



BATNA; Caucusing; Closure; Coalitions; Commitment; Competition v. Cooperation; Creativity; Currently perceived choice analysis; Decision analysis; Game theory; Offers, first; Options, generating; Quantitative analysis; Time constraints



This exercise explores the dynamics of coalition formation in an unstable choice environment. When many groups do the exercise, the variety of outcomes can be used to explore the advantages and disadvantages of different negotiating tactics.

The power of seemingly "weak" players can be enhanced through the creation of blocking coalitions.

Howard Raiffa's concept of "offers that cannot readily be refused" is illustrated in this exercise.

Rushing River Cleanup Attributes

Time required: 30 minutes-1 hour
Number of participants: 3
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: Yes