New Multiparty Negotiation is (Not Entirely) about Keeping Score

New Product: Hesperia Seed Initiative

A philanthropic initiative to introduce genetically modified seeds on the island nation of Hesperia has great potential: either to save the food supply affected by climate change and insect blights, or to destroy the fragile biodiversity and local genetic resources. Citizens and officials alike have debated not only the impact of GMOs but also the corporate control of the project: by partnering with one agricultural company, the nation’s farmers risk establishing a crop lien dynamic or becoming helpless if the company ever cuts the seed supply.

Lettuce_seeds_(464344612)Although supporters of the seed initiative consider it possible to mitigate these risks, the President of Hesperia is not convinced. He has put a moratorium on the importation, sale, and use of genetically modified seeds—but is willing to reconsider if five of six stakeholder groups agree on five seed initiative policies.

Hesperia Seed Initiative, the latest role play package from Professor Robert Bordone, is an intermediate-to-advanced multiparty negotiation simulation. This case has six roles, representing the sponsoring philanthropic foundation, the agricultural company developing genetically modified seeds, an NGO with interests in food security, the national biosafety agency, a local seed research center, and the United Nations. For larger courses, instructors can set up multiple games or create teams to represent each role.

The negotiation is “scored” to bring out tensions between creating and claiming value: each player has a confidential points system that scales their relative interest in each of the five policy issues and sets a minimum threshold for accepting a policy proposal. In addition, each player has unquantified interests that can be used to leverage deals or create impasses. Multiparty negotiation simulations with both scorable and non-scorable components are rare, says Professor Bordone.

Participants will identify interests and create options in a complex negotiation; appreciate the importance of process; see multiparty relationships and coalition dynamics in action; and learn how to break impasses. The case comes with an extensive teaching note with four review plans:

  • Discussion of creating and distributing value
  • Discussion of multiparty process and coalitional dynamics
  • Circle chart analysis in game groups
  • Discussion of challenges, followed by class-wide circle chart analysis

Each review plan includes reflection on what worked well and what to do differently in the future.  The preparation, negotiation, and review takes about three hours, but the review can be extended for highly engaged groups.

Hesperia Seed Initiative is available on the Case Studies website. Registered educators, staff at non-profit institutions, and trainers are eligible for review copies free of charge.

About Elizabeth Moroney

Case Studies Editorial Assistant
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