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A New Airport?


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  • Product Description

    This exercise focuses on the negotiation among six state Senators from a key committee to see whether they can find agreement on a package that would permit the building of a new international airport in the eastern part of the state of Ames. The six represent the key affected interest groups. A new airport is needed, because the current one is beyond capacity and expansion is difficult to impossible. However, an agreement on a way forward has proved elusive for over ten years. Western parts of the state have seen little benefit to them, and neighbors of proposed sites have resisted. The project would consume significant state funds for at least five years. A variety of issues are in play that vary in their direct connection to the airport project, and available funding is insufficient to meet all requests. Agreement of at least five of the six Senators is likely necessary for implementation, and the negotiation has a time limit (typically 1.5-3 hours). Agreement is possible, but depending on the package developed, some parties might prefer a no agreement outcome.

    Learning Objectives:
    A main point of the exercise is the increasing importance of process as the number of parties and issues increases. Systematic preparation, agenda-setting, and attention to how questions and activities are sequenced and framed is critical. For example, focusing primarily on demands and positions is likely to use time inefficiently and foster deadlock, in contrast to clarifying interests and concerns and focusing on brainstorming legitimate ways to meet those. Likewise, asking for criticism of illustrative proposals and then iterating them tends to result in far more progress than asking for acceptance of early proposals. The exercise requires learning to keep priorities clearly in mind while improvising strategy and tactics. And one’s likelihood of achieving a satisfying outcome is greatly enhanced with thoughtful preparation, especially analyzing the likely interests of other parties and possible creative options.

    (225 minutes to teach)

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: February 28, 2019
    Teaching Plan: Available with Educator Access
    HKS Case Number: 2146.0
    Case Author: Stephen Goldberg, Bruce Patton
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 11
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
    _year: 2018-2019
    _pages: 11-16
    _geography: US & Canada
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