Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Negotiation Exercise that You May Want to Use

Professor George Siedel at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is generously offering a (free) negotiation exercise that has proven successful:

 George J. Siedel

I teach negotiation in the MBA program at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.  I have also guest lectured on negotiation at the Harvard, Michigan, and  Stanford law schools, and have taught negotiation in many ABA and other programs for participants that have included general counsel,  law firm partners, and judges.

I recently learned about a law school legal writing program that incorporates skills development, including negotiation. If you teach in a similar legal writing program or in a separate skills development program, I have developed a package for your consideration that includes (1) a Teaching Note, (2) two roles, and (3) slides.  This package could also be used to introduce negotiation in the Contracts course.

These materials are based on an exercise called “The House on Elm Street,” which involves a transaction that everyone can relate to—the sale of a house.  The twist in the exercise is that, unknown to the seller, the buyer is a secret agent representing a large multinational company.  Each student receives a short (two-page) role as either the buyer or seller, and they negotiate for 30 minutes, followed by an instructor-led debriefing. 

The exercise is designed to achieve several learning goals.  Students will learn how to:

  1. understand the different types of negotiations;
  2. prepare for negotiations using a negotiation analysis that includes a reservation price, most likely outcome, stretch goal, and zone of potential agreement;
  3. recognize and decide ethical issues, using law-based (fraud, fiduciary duty, and unconscionability) and general ethical standards;
  4. develop and use their negotiating power through the concept of BATNA;
  5. apply contract and agency law concepts to negotiations; and
  6. create value in a manner that benefits both sides.

The Teaching Note is divided into three sections.  Section I explains how to set up the negotiation exercise.  Section II provides a script, with slides, for debriefing the exercise. 

Section III discusses a document titled “Self-Assessment and Feedback for the Other Side” that students can use to evaluate their negotiation skills and develop a plan for skill improvement.  This plan could be used as a writing assignment. 

I hope that these materials, which are available without charge, will be useful to you. 


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