Negotiation Exercises

The Negotiation Exercise Incubator (NEI) is the place where the Negotiation Task Force (NTF) designs interactive teaching and training content. Through the NEI, our team develops interactive negotiation exercises and training simulations ranging from cases for the undergraduate classroom to complex, immersive crisis management scenarios geared towards senior decision-makers in government, military, and the private sector that may be run on-site or online. 

NTF exercises engage participants through immersive learning, educate them on critical conflicts in the Eurasian and Euro-Atlantic sphere, and allow them to practice advanced negotiation, decision-making, and conflict management techniques. In addition to hard and soft copy purchases, the NEI offers electronic versions of all exercises that may be run virtually by the instructor or with guidance from an NTF team member.

Exercises developed by the Negotiation Task Force team have been used across Harvard University, including in the “Post-Soviet Conflict” seminar in the Department of Government, the Advanced Workshop in Multiparty Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Executive Education course Senior Executives in National and International Security, as well with other organizations, such as the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute.

Find a selection of our cases below. Several new scenarios are currently under development at the Negotiation Exercise Incubator (NEI).

  • If you would like to use these teaching materials or work with NTF experts to bring an exercise to your organization (either in person or virtually), please contact the Negotiation Task Force team at ntf@fas.harvard.edu.
  • If you have questions about orders, customization, or shipping, please visit the FAQ page.
  • If you are interested in our design methodology, check out these articles from NTF negotiation design experts:

The Art of Negotiation Exercise Design: Five Basic Principles to Produce Powerful Learning Experiences by Arvid Bell and Taylor Valley, Negotiation Journal, Winter 2020.
Cognitive Maelstroms, Nested Negotiation Networks, and Cascading Decision Effects: Modeling and Teaching Negotiation Complexity with Systemic Multi-Constituency Exercises by Arvid Bell and Brian Mandell, Negotiation Journal, Winter 2018.

Nagorno-Karabakh: A Convening of Community Leaders

This nine-party negotiation exercise focuses on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a long-standing territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Over the years, formal negotiations between the governments of each country and mediators from the Minsk Group (represented by Russia, the United States and France) have been unsuccessful. This (fictional) negotiation brings together civil society members in the hopes of reaching an agreement that could put formal negotiations back on a productive track. The conflict simulation introduces participants to the difficulties of negotiating around sacred issues, as well as the challenges of reaching an agreement when there are conflicting narratives to the same problem. From a negotiation analysis perspective, participants learn to ask probing questions in order to find shared interests with other negotiators and gain momentum towards reaching an agreement.

The Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

This seven-party, multi-issue negotiation challenges participants to solve a multidimensional conflict based on real-world circumstances, parties, and interests. This exercise’s main objective is to help negotiators better understand team and coalition building-dynamics during multi-issue negotiations. Within one coalition, the parties have to negotiate interests among three diverse camps: the European Union, the United States of America, and the Ukraine. Within the other, two roles (the Heads of the “DPR” and “LPR”) have a status that is somewhat inferior to that of another (Russia). Outside of these internal team dynamics, one party (the OSCE) acts as an undeclared/informal process leader and/or mediator. The six issues on the table are divided into two buckets, with short-term issues prioritized initially.

The Future of Georgia

Georgia hillsThis 8-32-party exercise is set in the post-Soviet country of Georgia. Participants will take on the role of U.S., EU, Russian, Georgian, international, and separatist negotiators and mediators to come to a consensus agreement on Georgia’s political future. Read about the “Future of Georgia” negotiation exercise in action.

The Future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

chess piecesThis ten-party, multi-issue exercise puts participants in the roles of U.S., Russian, and international leadership to renegotiate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This is an advanced exercise that exposes negotiators to the highest stakes international negotiation and issues in bilateral U.S.-Russian nuclear relations. 

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