Public Dispute Negotiation Role-Play:

Summitville Service Agreement

Patrick Field and Tracy Dyke
A two-team (four-party), co-mediated, multi-issue negotiation simulation involving a bitter property tax dispute between a small town and an Indian band living on a nearby reservation

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Summitville Service Agreement is a two-team, four-party, co-mediated, multi-issue simulation involving a property tax dispute between the small Canadian town of Summitville and the Antler Cove band living on a reservation just outside town limits.

The context of the dispute is that the Band has recently gained the right to tax non-Indian properties on its reserve land, and therefore the town can no longer tax those properties. Consequently, tax revenues are no longer available to the town to fund municipal services, and the Band and town must negotiate how those services will be provided to reserve land and at what cost to the Band. The key issue is a difference in perception regarding taxation authority. The town views this negotiation as simply defining a fee-for-service arrangement, where the Band should reimburse the town for municipal services that the town provides to Band property. In contrast, the Band perceives that the town is trying to infringe upon its sovereignty by requiring payment for town administration expenses when the Band is running its own government.

While the substantive issues related to crafting an acceptable service agreement are real and difficult, participants may discover through the mediation process that the broader relationship between the town and the Band must also be addressed.



Time require (5 hours total):

  • 45 minutes for preparation
  • 3.5 hours for simulation
  • 45 minutes for debrief


Group Size:

  • 6 participants (4 parties and 2 co-mediators)


Materials required:

  • General Instructions, including map and letters to the editor


Confidential Instructions for:

  • Mayor of Summitville B. Bolton (Town Representative)
  • Town Administrator T. Steeves (Town Representative)
  • Chief of Antler Cove Band A. John (Band Representative)
  • Band Administrator S. Robert (Band Representative)
  • Two co-mediators
  • Game logistics
  • Flip charts and Markers



  • Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA) on key issues
  • Managing hierarchies within and across organizations
  • The mediators’ role in framing the issues
  • Activity and style of the mediators
  • Maintaining control of the process and enforcing ground rules
  • Challenges and advantages of co-mediation



Summitville Service Agreement Attributes

Time required:
5 or more hours
Number of participants:
Teams involved:
Agent present:
Neutral third party present:
Teaching notes available:
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 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, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 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.