ARE THEY WELCOME HERE?Introducing a Six-Party Negotiation Game about Refugee Policy

This month I would like to introduce our latest negotiation game – a six-party four-hour simulation drawn from the real world of political negotiation around the (European) refugee crisis.

Facing what is perhaps its biggest challenge in decades, the 28 members of the European Union continue to wrestle to find an equitable solution to the growing refugee policy crisis – an agreement that deals adequately with the pressing humanitarian problem, and yet preserves the widely divergent interests of the member states. A negotiation challenge indeed!

To this end, a client asked Rational Games to develop a negotiation game, which we did in good cooperation with Valentin Ade at The Negotiation Studio.

Our “Peace and Prosperity Coalition” or “PPC” for short is a fictional confederation of wealthy states come together to draft a communiqué about this issue. We have playfully imagined six parties:

  • Blue: A large wealthy state with a liberal refugee policy
  • Green: Another large PPC state, a bit less wealthy and a lot less liberal
  • Orange: A smaller and decidedly illiberal state with no interest in refugees
  • Transit: A nonmember country currently bearing the brunt of the migration
  • Ours Conscience: An ecumenical religious authority appealing to the morals of all parties
  • The Media: Charged with reporting on the negotiation but with their own interests as well.

Over four hours, these parties negotiate multilaterally, both at and away from the table, trying to flesh out an agreement that includes a value statement, humanitarian safeguards, a concrete decision on an allocation formula and the question of national refugee caps as well as an equitable financing mechanism. The negotiation is conducted in real-time, supported digitally by a web-based app (created by our valued partners at g31 – Creative Consulting, Design, Interaction), which records all activity, analyzes the participant’s negotiation and allows for a thorough automated debrief and feedback document at the end.

Some of the lessons learned are the systemic analysis of multi-issue multi-party negotiations, the power of coalitions, the need to think creatively of new issues not in the case, the importance of understanding levers and knowing what to trade when, as well as the challenges of negotiation language rather than numbers.

The game is hugely absorbing, often gets quite emotional and provides great experiential learning. It has been run successfully in several outside Europe with new learnings for us each time.

For more, contact us at Rational Games. The game (including the app) is available free of charge to valued friends and clients of Rational Games.

Feedback welcome!