“U.S. Defense Taskforce,” a newly released negotiation simulation from the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), explores group decision-making processes in a multi-party negotiation. Lisa Dicker ’17 and Kathleen Kelly ’17 of the Harvard Law School Negotiators wrote this fast-paced simulation under the supervision of Sara del Nido Budish ‘13, HNMCP Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law.
The case opens when the zombie apocalypse has begun. Participants are part of a small committee in the U.S. Department of State entrusted to select the four people who will lead the effort in preparing for, surviving, and defeating the zombies. The Director of the Department of State is scheduled to hold a press conference to tell the American public who their leaders will be, and the participants’ committee has only 20 minutes to come to a unanimous decision and give the Director the four names.
U.S. Defense Taskforce emphasizes two crucial elements of multi-party negotiations: criteria and group process. First, the element of criteria is placed at the forefront of the case pedagogy. Participants have a list of seven candidates’ biographies, detailing each candidate’s age, life accomplishments, and unique qualities. Their committee’s deliberation process, as well as the debrief afterwards, challenges the participants to think through their reasons for choosing one candidate over another and what their criteria was (or wasn’t) for determining who should lead the United States.