Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

The Galactica SUV

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

The Galactica SUV

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

The purpose of this case is to provide an intercultural/international negotiation exercise that tests the ability of students to overcome cultural obstacles and think outside the box in order to structure a creative deal. The case has a difficulty level of five to seven, depending upon the depth with which the instructor wishes to explore the case, as well as the comfort level of the instructor with respect to the various issues. The negotiation exercise is designed to take from one and a half to two class hours (including the debrief), although more time may be spent on it. The case also requires approximately thirty to forty-five minutes of in-class or outside preparation time by the students.

CASE SYNOPSIS

What do you suppose would happen if a space alien from a distant and different culture arrived on the lot of a futuristic planet earth spacecraft dealership to negotiate the purchase of a space vehicle? In order to find out, climb into a Galactica SUV spacecraft, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!

This case is designed for use as a role playing opportunity in an international negotiation class. The subject matter of the negotiation derives from an activity many students have already engaged in - the purchase of a vehicle (in this case, however, that vehicle is a futuristic spacecraft, i.e., the Galactica SUV). Each student is assigned a role, either that of space alien CN-319 (the buyer) or that of earthling Spacey Starr (the seller), and then given time to prepare. The student is instructed to stay in role for the duration of the negotiation. Moreover, the student must make use of the cultural characteristics provided for each assigned role.

In order to avoid the cultural stereotyping that occurs in most intercultural or international negotiation exercises, this case deftly finesses the issue by creating two fictional cultures. CN-319, the prospective buyer, is a Banatarian from the planet Banatar, and each student playing this role is given a confidential role sheet describing certain cultural characteristics of Banatarians. Spacey Starr, the seller, is an earthling. Unfortunately for Spacey Starr, however, earthlings often confuse Banatarians with Vanatarians (from the planet Vanatar). While Banatarians and Vanatarians share some common cultural characteristics, they are diametrically opposed on others. Spacey Starr, who mistakenly believes prospective buyer CN-319 is a Vanatarian, prepares for the negotiation by becoming acquainted with Vanatarian cultural characteristics, which are outlined in the confidential role sheet provided to those playing the role of Spacey Starr. Accordingly, the well-intentioned (but ill-informed) Spacey Starr character inadvertently tends to commit cultural faux pas after cultural faux pas.

In addition to substantive lessons on conducting an integrative negotiation, the case also introduces a variety of cultural issues that often can and do occur in a real world intercultural or international negotiation. By having to contend with cultural confusion, the case tests the ability of students to deal with cultural errors, learn from mistakes, and overcome them. After the negotiation exercise has been completed, the instructor thoroughly debriefs the case to explore both the negotiation and cultural issues. Detailed instructions on how to conduct a debrief are included. Moreover, there is also a list of negotiation terms and definitions to assist those who are new to teaching negotiation.

THE GALACTICA SUV

CONFIDENTIAL - Role for CN-319, Supply Chain Analyst - CONFIDENTIAL

It is Friday morning, the last day of the month. CN-319, Supply Chain Analyst for Banatar Technologies of the Planet Banatar, is on Planet Earth finishing a cost analysis involving one of the company's major suppliers. The cell-screen rings and the face of XR-424, CN-319's cousin and president of Banatar Technologies, appears.

CN-319: "XR-424, I'm surprised to see your face on the screen. …

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