Related Resources

Below are a series of negotiation games used in class to help students explore the topics discussed. Complete versions of these games can be ordered from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University.

Game 1: Appelton-Baker


The Appletons and Bakers own homes on adjacent parcels of land. The Appletons are selling their house, and they also want to sell the half-lot which rests between their home and the Baker's. The purchasers of their home are not interested in buying the lot. The Bakers are interested in the lot. There is a large bargaining zone ($5,000 to $20,000), but neither party knows of the other party's interests.

Note: After debriefing, it is an option to have a five-minute re-negotiation once everyone knows the actual constraints placed on the other party.

Major Lessons

When several pairs negotiate simultaneously, the sale prices vary dramatically, which provides for a good discussion of the results of different strategies.

The advantages and disadvantages of making the first offer can be explored, as well as techniques for doing so.

Advantages and disadvantages of disclosure are also illustrated.

Full scenario available at: Appleton vs. Baker.

Game 2: Negotiated Development in Redstone


The grandchild of the founder of the city of Redstone has proposed building an upscale condominium project and has been encouraged by the Redevelopment Authority. Rumor has it that the plans include 120 units, street level commercial businesses, and a parking garage. The City Council is opposed to the project. A Neighborhood Association, including supporters of the "slow-growth" platform on which the Council was elected, is very upset and has articulated its opposition to the plan. In addition, the downzoning laws in Redstone allows the developer of the proposed project an "as of right" density of only 50 units. However, the developer can negotiate for a higher density by offering to exceed the 10% affordable housing requirement set by the city. The City Council has urged that a representative from the Neighborhood Association and the developer meet to try and reach an accord. If no agreement is reached, the dispute will go to the City Council and the Redevelopment Authority (which are at odds).

A variation of this exercise entitled Ocean Splash is also available from the Clearinghouse.


This scorable game takes about 10 minutes to read. Preparation should take approximately 15-20 minutes. The parties are given a chart to assess their scores for all possible agreements. The negotiation should take from 30-45 minutes. At least 30 minutes should be allocated for debriefing.

Major Lessons

This game involves pre-negotiation analysis enabling parties to understand the importance of "aspirations" as distinct from BATNA's.

The participants have an opportunity to analyze the differences between distributive and integrative bargaining.

Focusing on issues that are valued differently will allow participants to assess the importance of trading across issues to reach an agreement.

Full scenario available at: Negotiated Development in Redstone.

Game 3: Three-Party Coalition Exercise


Three independent organizations, "A," "B" and "C," have sent representatives to a three-way negotiation. The representatives have learned that there are benefits to working together. If all three groups reach an agreement, benefits totalling 121 points will be split three ways (to be determined by the participants). If only two of the organizations reach an agreement, the total benefits to be split will be less than 121 (varying, depending on which two organizations join together) and the third party will be left with nothing.

This exercise is structurally similar to The Parking Facility Venture, Social Services and Rushing River Cleanup.

Note: The underlying mathematical structure of this exercise is similar to that of the exercises The Parking Facility Venture, Social Services and Rushing River Cleanup.


This exercise is designed for three participants. Preparation should take 5-10 minutes. Negotiations require 15-20 minutes; more time is useful.

Major Lessons

The concept of BATNA can be examined, since each participant has the information he or she needs to calculate the expected value of maximizing their well-being.

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

When played by several groups at the same time, the comparison of outcomes is instructive.

The exercise can also be used to raise questions about the basis for arbitrating multi-party disputes.

Full scenario available at: Three-Party Coalition Exercise.

Game 4: Harborco


Harborco is a consortium of development, industrial, and shipping concerns interested in building and operating a deepdraft port. It has already selected a site for the port, but cannot proceed without a license from the Federal Licensing Agency (FLA). The FLA is willing to grant Harborco a license, but only if it secures the support of at least 4 of 5 other parties: the environmental coalition, the federation of labor unions, a consortium of other ports in the region, the Federal Department of Coastal Resources (DCR), and the Governor of the host state. The parties have several issues to negotiate before deciding whether or not to approve the port, including the types of industries that will be permitted to locate near the port, the extent to which environmental damage be mitigated, the extent to which organized labor will be given preference in hiring during construction and operation of the port, the amount of any federal financial assistance to Harborco, and the amount of any compensation to other ports in the region for potential economic losses?


This game is best played with 12 people (2 per role) although 6 people also works. A game manager is needed to conduct periodic votes and to answer questions. Game instructions require at least 30 minutes to read; more preparation is helpful. Negotiations require a minimum of 2 hours. The more time allowed for negotiation the better.

Major Lessons

When the game is played by several groups at the same time, the comparison of outcomes is instructive. Typically, some groups will reach agreement and some will not. Very few groups will reach unanimous (6-way) agreement.

Players are exposed to elementary utility analysis in the point scoring scheme. The importance of pre-negotiation analysis in evaluating options is illustrated. The players can then explore how and why different negotiating strategies led to different outcomes.

Multi-issue, multi-party negotiations tend to involve the formation of coalitions--especially blocking coalitions. This game provides an instructive context for exploring coalition strategies.

Parties that reveal their true interests do not necessarily do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all one's concerns are illustrated in this game.

Pareto-superior and Pareto-inferior agreements are illustrated by the scores.

When 12 players play the game (2 per role) they have an opportunity to explore the special difficulties of negotiations involving non-monolithic parties.

The need for a neutral "process manager" of some sort is also illustrated, as the parties struggle to structure their discussions.

The advantages of caucusing can be explored. In some cases, players will initiate caucuses; in others, they will avoid private caucusing.

Full scenario available at: Harborco.

Game 5: Dirty Stuff II


Representatives of the Environmental Industry, Labor and Government Agency have met to discuss the regulation of a substance called DirtyStuff. The last meeting ended abruptly and the coalitions have enlisted the help of a facilitator for the next meeting. The goal of the next meeting is to revise the proposed rule regarding the production and use of DirtyStuff for publishing in The Federal Register.

Note: This is an updated version of DirtyStuff I. DirtyStuff II includes a very angry and rambunctious consumer representative who feels left out of the negotiations.


This exercise is written to include six roles, however, more than one person may be assigned to any role. Players have 45 minutes to prepare, including time for caucusing between parties with the same role. Actual negotiations should take less than 90 minutes. Debriefing will require at least 45 minutes to compare and discuss outcomes.

Major Lessons

This exercise illustrates how an angry party can alter the tone or balance of a multiparty negotiation or create difficulties for a facilitator.

With such a wide range of possible agreements, the comparison of several groups' outcomes can demonstrate the usefulness of generating options. Some groups, however, might not reach agreement.

The role of the facilitator may develop into a mediator's role, a process manager's role or become excluded from the negotiations, depending on the other parties, since the instructions are vague.

Players create the design of the meeting. The tone of the negotiations can be cooperative or competitive.

Caucusing can lead to the formation of blocking coalitions. The effect of caucusing on the prospects of reaching agreements can be compared across groups.

The usefulness of a single negotiating text is illustrated. This gives parties a focal point for discussion and a tool for recording the evolving agreement. This can clarify differences and help parties structure packages or trade-offs more creatively.

Full scenario available at: DirtyStuff II.

Game 6: Carson Extension


Carson Rug Company is a middle-sized, family owned business located in Garth, along the Melrose River. Carson applied for an Army Corps of Engineers permit to construct a seawall extending into the Melrose River. After this application was denied, Caron's second application, specifying a considerable smaller extension, was approved. However, the actual modifications nearly doubled the size of the authorized seawall fill. Carson contends that the noncompliance was unintentional and blames the engineering firm for misinterpreting instructions.

Representatives from the Army Corps, Garth Town Council, Hills Engineering, an environmental group, and the president of Carson Rug must negotiate the removal of the seawall fill in a manner that is agreeable to all.

Major Lessons

Multi-issue, multi-party negotiations tend to involve the formation of coalitions-- especially blocking coalitions. This game provides an instructive context for exploring coalition strategies.

Parties that reveal their true interests do not necessarily do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all one's concerns are illustrated in this game.

The need for a neutral "process manager" of some sort is also illustrated, as the participants must structure their discussions.

Full scenario available at: Carson Extension.

Game 7: Westville


This exercise was written specifically to explore non-neutral mediation strategies, but can be used to examine distributive and integrative negotiation strategies. Because the mediator's performance is scored, this game allows us to examine third party intervention strategies under conditions that call into question the mediator's neutrality.


The situation is a composite of local cases. G. Hutter, representative of the Westville Homelessness Task Force, hopes to turn the old social service center into a shelter for Westville's homeless. J. Wood represents Neighbors Together, a local neighborhood organization. Wood is worried about the shelter's impact on the community: what will this do to property values? A. Goldsmith, a member of the Westville City Planning staff, has been asked by the Mayor to act as a mediator, to help Hutter and Wood come up with an agreement they can live with--before the City Council plunges ahead and decides on its own.

Major Lessons

Three issues must be negotiated. Because the parties' priorities differ, the players have opportunities to exploit their differences, to trade across issues, and to achieve joint gains. But they can reach poor compromises too, agreements in which both parties do much worse than they need to. In all, thirteen agreements are possible. Comparing agreements the players achieve allows for discussion of the following points:

  • Differences between joint gains and compromises.
  • Tensions between creating and claiming value.
  • The centrality of trading, exploiting differences in relative priorities.
  • Issues of power and representation of affected parties.
  • Roles of third party helpers and questions about neutrality.
  • Mediating strategies when mediators have multiple goals.
  • Perceptions and realities of "even-handedness" and neutrality.
  • Sources of mediators' bias.
  • Sources of mediators' influence.
  • Activist vs. neutral mediator roles.

Full scenario available at: Westville.

Game 8: River Bend


Calgary Central Gas is planning to build a gas-fueled cogeneration plant near the Reserve of the River Bend band of native Canadians. About 22 years ago, CC Gas laid a gas pipeline through the reserve, for which it paid the band the standard right-of-way fee. The selected site for the new cogeneration plant would require laying a new spur pipeline connecting the plant to the main pipeline. While CC Gas has never paid any taxes or royalties to the River Bend band for the main pipeline, the band recently obtained the authority to collect property taxes on land within the reserve, and is in the process of establishing its tax system.

Representatives of CC Gas and of the River Bend band (including an advisor from the Federal Fair Tax Commission) are meeting to discuss the following four issues: (1) what CC Gas would pay the River Bend band for the pipeline spur right-of-way; (2) whether CC Gas would provide any jobs or economic development to the band; (3) whether and how the River Bend band will tax CC Gas for the main pipeline and for the planned new spur; and (4) what steps will be taken to ensure the health and safety of the River Bend band members and the wildlife on the reserve.

This case is designed to highlight issues involved in negotiating with complex parties, including intra-team preparation, analysis of constituency interests, management of internal dissension, clarification of authority and roles, and agenda-setting and sequencing. Other teaching points that may emerge include the utility of option-generation before commitment, the advantages and limitations of "objective" criteria, the tendency toward reactive devaluation, and the importance of clear, binding commitments.

Full scenario available at: River Bend.