Business and Commercial Role-Play:

Social Services A Three-Party Exercise


Denise Madigan

Three-party scoreable negotiation among three non-profit social service providers over whether to apply for funding in a consortium of two or three; 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.).

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.


Allied, Benevolent, and Caring Services are three nonprofit social service providers competing for state social service funding. The state funding agency has decided to increase its annual budget but will provide additional funds only to a consortium of two or more providers. Each provider must decide whether to cooperate with the other providers in order to pursue state funds, and if so, how these funds should be divided among the cooperating providers.

NOTE: The underlying mathematical structure of this exercise is similar to that of the exercises The Parking Facility Venture, Rushing River Cleanup and the Three-Party Coalition Exercise.



This game is designed for three participants, one per role. Game instructions require 5 minutes to read; additional preparation time is desirable. Negotiations require 15 to 20 minutes; more time is useful. A second version of the case includes a mediator as a fourth party.

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.



  • The dynamics of coalition formation in an unstable situation are illustrated. When many groups of three are playing, outcomes can be explored illustrating 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 game.



For all parties:

  • General Instructions


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above



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

Social Services Attributes

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