International Relations Negotiation Role-Play:

Smithfield v. Rudfurd’s Home Repairs

Pat Aaron
Three-person small claims mediation between a homeowner and repair company regarding unfinished roof repair

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SCENARIO:

Rudfurd’s Home Repairs was contacted by John Smithfield to perform an estimate on porch repairs. Upon the arrival of the company workers, it was determined that a hole would have to be placed in the top of the ceiling of the porch in order to assess the extent of the wood rot. The Smithfields had no problem with this, as long as the hole could be repaired. A communication breakdown occurred between the Smithfields and Rudfurd surrounding the repair of the hole and Mr. Smithfield has filed a claim in small claims court.

 

MECHANICS:

This mediation exercise takes about 10-15 minutes for reading and preparation. It is a one-on-one simulation and takes approximately 20-45 minutes for the actual mediation. Videotaping can be helpful for self-evaluation and group review. “A Brief Outline of the Mediation Process,” in Other Materials, is useful as background reading for the mediator. “An Actual Small Claims Mediated Agreement,” is useful as follow-up reading, especially if mediators have been asked to draft any agreement reached. (Hand this out after the mediators have finished their own try at drafting).

 

MAJOR LESSONS:

  • This case is useful as a teaching tool for small claims mediators. Mediators can test their skills in dealing with parties who feel that court is a waste of time and the procedural process invalidates the notion of fairness.
  • Participants should be able to generate creative options after assessing the interests of the participants involved. It is appropriate to use objective criteria and to also consider Smithfield’s BATNA.
  • In considering the meeting design, the mediator can should assess the value of caucuses, as well as test his or her skill in making the parties view and understand the other party’s interests.

 

TEACHING MATERIALS:

Role Specific:

Confidential Information for:

  • Smithfield
  • Rudfurd
  • Basic Fact Sheet for Mediator

 

Teacher’s Package:

  • All of the above

 

PROCESS THEMES:

Anchoring; Assumptions; Commitment; Communication; Credibility; Drafting; Fairness; Information exchange; Interpersonal skills; Legitimacy; Mediation; Meeting design; Message analyst; Misrepresentation; Nonverbal communication; Objective criteria; Options, generating; Personality; Reality testing

 

Smithfield v. Rudfurd's Home Repairs Attributes

Time required:
30 minutes – 1 hour
Number of participants:
3
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
Mediator
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
No
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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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.