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Hard Bargaining in the Classroom: Realistic Simulated Negotiations and Student Values

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Empirical research into the negotiation practices of lawyers shows that “hard bargaining,” including at least some unethical conduct, is an inescapable fact of a lawyer's life. To prepare students for legal practice, negotiation instructors must expose them to hard bargaining in the classroom. In doing so, however, instructors should be sensitive to the moral and ethical values of their students, so that the classroom experience does not unduly pressure students to compromise their values.

The simulation is the primary tool of negotiation instruction. By selecting and manipulating simulations, a negotiation instructor can expose students to a wide range of negotiating behaviors, from distributive negotiations marked by the use of power tactics to value‐creating negotiations in which participants must consider many interests and collaborative strategies predominate. With that flexibility, however, comes the potential for classroom exercises to pressure students, in ways both subtle and overt, to adopt behaviors that feel uncomfortable.

In this article, I examine the use of simulations to teach different types of negotiating behavior, including hard bargaining. Referring to a number of widely available simulations, I suggest ways to focus student attention on three dimensions of negotiation behavior — the issues over which the parties are bargaining, the objectives the parties seek, and the tactics the parties use to achieve their objectives — in order to push students to reflect on their own negotiation behaviors and to prepare for the tactics of others. I assess the potential for simulations to pressure students to compromise their values, and I conclude with my own thoughts on the goals of a negotiation course.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution at St. John's University School of Law in New York City

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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