CBI is a leader in developing role-play simulations for training purposes. 

We have produced and conducted role-plays covering a variety of issues, for organizations ranging from the United Nations to Fortune 25 corporations. CBI's role-play exercises allow participants to assume stakeholder and third-party roles while engaging in negotiations that mirror real life situations — giving them the opportunity to 'try out' the key tools and strategies presented in training. CBI develops customized role-play simulations for organizations, as well as ready-to-use simulations available through Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation (PON) Clearinghouse.

CBI's role-play simulations offer several benefits, including: 

  • Enabling participants to see more clearly the individual and organizational capabilities that need to be developed - by focusing on a simpler (but still accurate) representation of the challenges participants will face when they try to apply methods learned in training.

  • Allowing participants to develop a better appreciation for the perspectives of others with whom they may need to negotiate or interact - by playing assigned roles (with confidential instructions) that are often quite distinct from their real-life roles.

  • Ensuring that every participant will be forced to confront particular negotiation puzzles or problems - by using carefully tailored role-play simulations, as opposed to case studies or other teaching scenarios.

  • Helping participants tie general lessons-learned to specific organizational needs and to formulate a follow-up action agenda - by enagaging in well-managed debriefings that draw out key lessons and highlight tensions that arise between theory and practice.

A sample of our ready-to-use role-play simulations:

Energy, Environment, and Land Use

DirtyStuff II
A six-person exercise designed for federal agencies in the United States to use in training participants in upcoming regulatory negotiation. It introduces the role of a facilitator/mediator and emphasizes "single-text" negotiation.
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A seven-party facilitated meeting over whether or not a particular section of the seafloor should be designated a protected area and closed to fishing. This a joint fact finding exercise.
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Long River: Confronting the Challenges of Instream Flow
A seven-person mediation involving representatives of governmental, business, environmental, recreational, and tribal interests involved in a science-based dispute over the formulation of an instream flow action plan. It challenges all parties to commit to using a mediator's services and examines the benefits of pursuing an adaptive management approach to dealing with scientific uncertainty.
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Flooding: Helping Cities Adapt to Climate Change Risks
A seven person facilitated exercise in which a property developer and various regulatory associations must decide whether to move forward with a planned development, given new data about increased flood risks. Participants must decide whether the company should be allowed to go through with the development, and how the city should deal with current and projected flood risks, balancing short- and long-term goals in the face of climate change.
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West Wind in Pine Hills
A two-party simulation in which a town representative and a wind energy company representative must reach agreement on the size of a proposed wind farm and the community benefits associated with it. Each side receives points based on the negotiated outcome. The game illustrates how surfacing interests and trading across differences can help parties reach agreement.
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Commercial Agreements

ChemCo, Inc.
A six-person negotiation simulation involving industrial factory representatives and environmental agency representatives over air quality and economic concerns. Both sides have experienced damaging negative publicity. The game illustrates how negotiations can be used to resolve conflicts among scientists when scientific data are in dispute.
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Multimode, Inc.
A two-party intra-organization budget negotiation between a company's human resources office and the vice president for finance. The game explores the use of interest-based negotiation concepts in what is traditionally a hard bargaining situation.
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A two-player simulation between a company called Viatex that makes plastic bottles and Brattlebury, one of its clients, which produces pharmaceuticals. The game examines the benefits of working collaboratively to find mutual gains in a difficult business situation.
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International Development

Foreign Direct Investment in Mandoa
A multiparty negotiation involving government officials trying to agree on a foreign direct investment strategy that balances the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The game offers an opportunity to try consensus-building techniques in an international political context with a political appointee as facilitator.
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Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border
A ten-person co-chaired negotiation involving representatives of two adjacent countries trying to agree on the best response to a severe transboundary water shortage crisis. It emphasizes the importance of agenda control and the power of option creation among other things. It focuses heavily on how to handle scientific and technical disagreements in a highly charged political context.
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The Bepo Dam Plan: Managing Climate Risk in Energy Sector Planning
Eight stakeholders are convened to assess whether or not to proceed with a large hydroelectric dam in the face of new data on the potential risks climate change may pose to the project. Participants must consider the acute need for electricity in a rapidly developing country against the highly uncertain and longer-term but potentially significant consequences climate change may have. Participants wrestle with assessing risks, interpreting scientific information, managing uncertainty and balancing short and long-term interests.
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Corporate Stakeholder Engagement

Teflex Products
A six-person negotiation among representatives of a pharmaceutical company, a medical drug manufacturer, and three consumer organizations over the delayed release of a new drug. It emphasizes the use of mutual gains negotiating principles in dealing with an angry public.
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World Trade Center Redevelopment Negotiation
A six-person mediated negotiation involving representatives of the city, state, developer, insurer, and victims' families regarding the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This exercise highlights the special difficulties of multiparty negotiation in the public arena, including the use of mediation in situations when emotionally charged issues are in play.
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Blueville Health Foundation
A five-person simulation in which the Executive Committee of the Blueville Health Foundation must identify community health issues that need funding, decide how to engage the community in this process, and how to interact among themselves to meet their Foundation responsibilities.
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Organizational Governance and Strategy

Binder Kadeer: Consultation in the Company
A three person facilitated discussion between an HR representative and an employee who has filed a discrimination complaint against his manager. This simulation explores issues of diversity within the company. This exercise is one of six modules in the "Collaborative Negotiation for Human Resource Professionals" curriculum package.
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Facilitating the Office Move
A four-party facilitation simulation in which colleagues must reach agreement on the location and layout of their new office. The facilitator must help three parties reach an agreement that meets the CEO's criteria. The game illustrates basic facilitation lessons around setting an agenda, surfacing interests, and helping stakeholders choose among options.
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Social Policy & Cultural Resources

Ellis v. MacroB
A five-person simulation focused on mediating values-based legal disputes; specifically, disputes involving potentially conflicting values and interests around issues of homosexuality and religious faith. It demonstrates that assisted negotiation (i.e., mediation) can be used to reconcile parties with conflicting values.
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Big Pipeline in Swagwit
A negotiation between representatives of a construction company and a First Nation group regarding the allocation of construction jobs associated with the building of a pipeline across the reserve. It emphasizes cross-cultural negotiation.
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Development Dispute at Menehune Bay
A seven-person facilitated negotiation of a land development dispute involving environmental issues, native rights, and commercial interests in Hawaii. It focuses on the role of a facilitator in a complex multi-party, multi-issue dispute.
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