Simulations for Online Negotiation

From Obi-Wan-FOI Noam Ebner:

Hi all,

Here’s a resource I’ve prepared for simulating negotiation at-a-distance, that some of you might put to good use now that our students and courses are all online.  Fit the fuss to the forum!

In AuraCall (Origin), a telecommunication company’s customer service center requires negotiation training in order to improve their handling of internal conflict and conflict with angry customers.  The center’s manager has reached out to an expert in online training course design to negotiate the price and terms of providing such a course.

I’ve created two versions of this, one adapted for email interaction and the other for videoconferencing.

Videoconferencing Negotiation Simulation: AuraCall (Origin)

Email Negotiation Simulation: AuraCall (Origin)

The differences between the two documents are minor and subtle, but they serve to set the stage better for running the simulation through each media.

Each document includes the simulation’s role information as well as a basic Teaching Guide detailing its setup, conduct, and debriefing.  I’m sure the Teaching Guides could be improved but I prefer to get these out quickly, in time to be helpful.  Feel free to send me comments and suggestions!

[While we’re at it, back to fitting the forum to the fuss:

Note, that this simulation is titled AuraCall (Origin) to distinguish it from AuraCall, Inc., a previously published simulation focusing on dispute resolution process choice between…  a customer service center manager and an instructional designer.  While that simulation was published separately (in Lewicki et al.), and the two simulations can be used independently of one another, they were originally designed to allow for sequential use.  In one lesson, students negotiate a deal with AuraCall (Origin); in the next, they learn that their deal has gone sour and they negotiate, in AuraCall Inc., the dispute resolution process they will use to handle their conflict.

The purpose of the two-part simulation was to bring home some realities of dispute resolution that are not experienced in a typical parachute-in, one-shot simulation: the investment parties put into negotiating an original deal, the pride they felt in it, and how these, together with their dependence on the deal’s fruition, transform into disappointment, recriminations, and anger when things go bad.  Want to take this further?  After parties jointly decide on a dispute resolution process, a third lesson can be dedicated to actually simulating this process (for the most part, this is mediation) with no further material necessary.

AuraCall Inc. is in R. Lewicki, D. Saunders, & B. Barry (eds.), Negotiation: Readings, exercises & cases (6th ed.) Burr Ridge, IL: McGraw-Hill/Irwin (2009).

To use the follow-on AuraCall Inc. simulation after students have completed AuraCall (Origin), all you need to do is instruct them to ignore the default deal struck for providing the negotiation course that is briefly detailed in their info in AuraCall Inc., and instead to apply the details of their own negotiated deal.  Students who did not reach agreement in the first simulation can artificially assume that at the last moment they agreed to the default deal.]

If you find the entire parenthetical confusing, let me back up and simplify: Hey look – simulations!

As my grandfather would say (about everything he gave me, whether it was a twenty dollar bill or a used pencil):  Use it in good health.

Somehow, the wheel has turned, and this has become a really apt line for all sorts of things.

Take good care everybody.

Noam

One thought on “Simulations for Online Negotiation”

  1. Newfound Appreciation for Video Conferencing:

    I recently participated in the inter-school negotiation exercise hosted by South Texas College of Law Houston. Upon completing the exercise, I reflected back on some of the core lessons that I learned. At the top of my list was effective communication. Negotiating is a difficult task by itself, but it can quickly become impossible as a result of ineffective communication. With the exercise being conducted virtually, there were plenty of opportunities for ineffective communication or other “communication hurdles” to inhibit parties from reaching a settlement.

    While my partner and I did not experience many communication hurdles during the exercise, I am all too familiar with how a misunderstanding can occur in textual communication such as texts and emails. When is the last time you read a text and asked yourself, “is this comment meant to be read seriously or as a joke?” Textual communication is effective in many regards (such as solidifying a thought), but remains ineffective to portray other aspects of communication (such as tone, sincerity, body language, etc.). That said, I have a new found appreciation for video conferencing.

    At the start of the negotiation exercise, my partner reached out to me via email to introduce herself and discuss some other basic formalities. We then exchanged phone numbers and began texting, which increased our pace of communication and facilitated the establishment of further guidelines. We also scheduled a video conference through texting. We conducted the remainder, and quite frankly, the bulk of our negotiation through video conferencing. The negotiations went off without a hitch and we reached a settlement within 45 minutes–something that likely could not have been accomplished through email or text.

    The main advantage of video conferencing, in my opinion, is that it replicates appropriate social norms and behaviors. By video chatting, each party is required to look directly at the other person, remain responsive, be respectful, and think contemporaneously. For these reasons, among others, video conferencing remains a very effective social and business tool. Therefore, I am a proponent of video chatting when in-person meetings are not possible.

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