By Alonzo Emery
First published on the HLS Case Studies Blog
In a new negotiation role play from the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP), the world’s leading clothing company is a client in need of dispute systems design.
A&M Apparel, headquartered in the prosperous United Commonwealth, relies on supply chain factories across the globe. Recently, an international non-governmental organization launched a campaign to shame A&M and other multinational fashion companies, alleging egregious workers’ rights violations in their supply chains. The new CEO of A&M has asked the Yarvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (YNMCP) to recommend a design for a new grievance system at the Wolfcom Factory – an overseas factory particularly plagued by assembly line worker unrest.
YNMCP is a clinic at Yarvard Law School that serves the dispute systems design and conflict management needs of clients working in a wide range of industries. Two to three students are assigned to the A&M project. They must: 1) identify as many key stakeholders or stakeholder groups as possible, 2) understand the client’s needs and manage the client’s expectations, 3) develop an interview protocol for interviewing stakeholders, 4) facilitate focus groups, and 5) consider any ethical challenges the project might raise.
The exercises in this case offer students the opportunity to practice skills that they will use as dispute systems designers. Identifying stakeholders, conducting interviews, facilitating focus groups, managing client expectations and dealing with potential ethical challenges are all directly applicable to working with clients and on a variety of dispute systems design projects. The exercises were tailored specifically to the needs of students enrolled in the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) who, in addition to their clinical projects for real-world clients, take the 1-credit Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Seminar as a co-requisite course. This structure allows students to practices skills with the YNMCP case before actively using those skills in their real-world projects.
There are five core learning units in YNMCP, each corresponding to critical skills for effective dispute systems design. Although designed to be used together in sequence, each of these learning units can be purchased individually and used as a stand-alone exercise. The recommended sequencing of exercises assumes deployment over four weeks in an introductory Dispute Systems Design course. The exercises can be used in classes of varying size, but a class of eight or more students is ideal. The YNMCP Teaching Notes provide thorough guidance on how to run each exercise as well as listing the materials, people, and time required for each exercise. The Teaching Notes also help those new to the case design debriefs that will ensure a rich learning experience.
To download YNMCP, visit HLS Case Studies website. Educators and staff of non-profit institutions are eligible to receive review copies free of charge.