Once upon a time in the far off kingdom of Learningland, three negotiation courses were held during the same week in the capital city Rarelyfail.
Course A was held in the Hilton Hotel, with delicious food and three speakers. Two of the speakers were famous practitioner negotiators who regularly appeared in the popular media. Their fields of expertise were international trade with China, and hostage rescue. The third was an academic who writes popular books and who teaches on occasion at a high status US university.
The three told gripping and humorous stories for two days with many movie clips and power point diagrams. Six hundred people watched and laughed for two days, ate delicious food at the Hilton and met a few new and old friends. They each paid US$4000 to attend.
Course B was held across the city in a large conference room of the large law firm Smith, Hughes and Swazenburg. This course was mandatory for all mid- level lawyers in the firm and these people flew from various cities to attend (some rather reluctantly). Ten customers of the firm were also invited to send a representative each.
Thirty one people finally attended. Twelve others dropped out at the last minute allegedly due to crises in their offices. The course consisted of short demonstrations and multiple role plays with instant feedback under the supervision of law partners and professional trainers.
All of the role plays were based on cases being handled by the law firm and its clients. The role plays tested repetitively preparation of goals, and a range of responses to an emotional party, a hard bargainer, and a disorganised opponent. The role play also drilled the participants in a 12 step negotiation process. Allegedly, the instructors expressly avoided teaching “theory” and concentrated on modelling a range of skills.
Course C was also held over two days at a prominent local university. Invitations were sent to other universities, police, law firms, refugee agencies, and a number of international businesses. The cost was $500 US. Fifty three people attended. Papers were summarised by presenters talking. Panel discussions were held on various topics including the sociology and psychology of negotiation; diagnostic criteria for various types of negotiation, or not; and varying negotiation practices allegedly used in different types of transactions, conflicts and across different cultures. Eight articles were eventually published from those presented at the conference.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_wade/12/