The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Negotiation with Professor John Garvey

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The Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.

Professor John Garvey led MLDP's latest session with a workshop entitled, "Problem Solving, Decision-Making, and Negotiation." A law professor at the University of New Hampshire, Professor Garvey taught us the difference between zero-sum and interest-based negotiations, elaborated on the phases of an engagement involving negotiation, and facilitated simulated interactions requiring negotiation.

MLDP participants perform a negotiation exercise. Photo by Abigail Chen '17.

In zero-sum negotiations, one party must lose in order for the other party to win. In interest-based negotiations, each party can receive most, if not all, of what they want. If the item in contention between two people was an orange, a zero-sum negotiation might result in one-half of the orange going to each person. On the other hand, an interest-based negotiation might reveal certain preferences of each person. For example, one person may wish to make juice while the other may need the rinds for a baking recipe. Once the preferences are revealed, the two parties can leave with all of what they want.

Professor Garvey also shed light on the process of negotiating and highlighted the research phase that preceded the actual engagement. Before negotiating, he reminded us that fully identifying our own preferences is important, in addition to conducting research on the item in question.

Negotiation simulations were the most interactive portion of the session, and they allowed us to better know our team members. One simulation involved arm wrestling matches, with each person gaining a point for themselves after a victory. With the goal of gaining the most possible points within a short period of time, several pairs realized that a win-win situation was possible. In the win-win situation, each person allowed the other to win in quick, successive matches. The pairs who discovered the strategy attained more than 20 points per person, a testament to the power of cooperation.

The most important takeaway from Professor Garvey was a mnemonic he emphasized. In negotiations, we should be "firm, fair, and friendly."

-Written by Joshua Wan '16, Spring 2015 MLDP Participant

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences