Game Theory and Negotiation Analytics Role-Play:

Win As Much WATER As You Can!

Catherine Ashcraft
Four-person, scoreable, prisoner’s dilemma game where players decide how to handle low water levels in 10 quick rounds; an adaptation of the case “Win As Much As You Can.”

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This game is a vehicle for learning about the connection between self-interest and group welfare, trust, compliance mechanisms and ethics. It also illustrates the difference between one-time encounters and multi-round or iterative negotiations.

Scenario: Mayflower Lake has been suffering from low water levels in the late summer. The low levels are having negative impacts on the lake’s water quality, vegetation, aquatic fauna, and now, Cusk, a local fish. After heated negotiations at the end of last summer, the four primary users of the lake reached an agreement to address the low levels by cooperating to reduce water diversions. Once the lake levels drop below an agreed upon “low level”, the stakeholders have agreed to voluntarily restrict their water use to keep more water in the lake for late summer needs. The stakeholders are a farmer, a water supplier, a gardener, and the owner of a fish camp.

The summer is now here and water levels in the lake have just dropped below the agreed upon “low level”. Each participant must decide what they want to do. The “Yes” card indicates that they voluntarily cut back on their water use. The “No” card means that they do not, and instead withdraw their usual amount of water. Each round represents a successive time later in the summer when the “low level” is reached and the participants have to decide what they are going to do.

Mechanics:

Set-up                                      10 min
Ten rounds of the game       15 min
Debriefing                               25 min

Teaching Materials:

• For all parties:

Instructions and score sheet

“Yes” and 1 “No” card for each role

• Teacher’s Package:

All of the above and Teaching Notes

Process Themes: Assumptions; Commitment; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Compliance; Credibility; Decision analysis; Game theory; Group process; Joint gains; Meaning of “success”; Message analysis; Risk aversion; Risk perception; Trust

Major Lessons (from the original “Win As Much As You Can”):

  • Short-term gains can lead to long-term losses
  • It is not in you interest to leave other people feeling as if they need to get even for past losses you have made them incur.
  • Negotiate with deeds as well as with words.
  • Seek reciprocity.
  • Create compliance mechanisms where necessary, such as penalties!
  • Monitoring of compliance is important! You have to be able to see that other people are abiding by their agreements and may need to demonstrate that you are as well.
  • Make yourself trustworthy.
  • Invoke reputation (yours and theirs).

 

Win As Much WATER As You Can! Attributes

Time required:
50 minutes
Number of participants:
4
Teams involved:
Yes
Agent present:
Lawyer
Neutral third party present:
None
Scoreable:
Yes
Teaching notes available:
Yes
Author:
Catherine Ashcraft
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 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.