Media Release  

HKS Ash Center and Case Program Launch First Cases in Legislative Negotiation

Cambridge, MA—Today, the Ash Center and SLATE’s Case Program at Harvard Kennedy School announced the release of a groundbreaking package of cases, simulations, and exercises for teaching effective legislative negotiation aimed at U.S. state and federal legislators. These materials were developed as part of the Center’s Project on Legislative Negotiation with support provided by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation Madison Initiative.

Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, who worked for two years on this project with a team of negotiation specialists at HKS and other universities, says these cases and simulations should give members of federal and state legislatures important new tools to help find compromises and forge solutions to many of country’s problems. “It’s easy to think that our political system is inherently broken, given the legislative deadlock that grips the Congress and state houses around the country,” said Mansbridge. “We hope that, building on known negotiation principles, these cases and simulations will help legislators across the ideological spectrum find common ground around policy solutions.”

As part of the project Mansbridge helped pioneer the academic concept of “legislative negotiation.” Previously, training and research in negotiation did not include legislative negotiation, and training and research on Congress and the state legislatures did not include negotiation. The materials developed by the Project on Legislative Negotiation are intended to fill this void. “We’re excited to have launched a completely new field,” said Mansbridge. ”It should over time have real practical impact.”

The resulting case studies, simulations, and exercises are available, without charge, to any qualified instructor in negotiation through the Kennedy School’s Case Program website. They are the first curricular materials ever developed for teaching legislative negotiation.

Cases developed by the Project include the bipartisan congressional passage of the Water for the World Act in 2014, which extended funding for access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries around the world; the Oregon Equal Pay Act in 2017, a triumph for lawmakers from both parties; and the Republican and Democratic partnership in Utah to create an immigration bill in 2010-11.

You can find more information about the Project on Legislative Negotiation here.

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit

SLATE (Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence) offers professional development, consultation services, and a growing toolkit of tested curricular materials to ensure that all participants in the HKS enterprise can make the most of every precious opportunity to learn. Founded in 1978, the Harvard Kennedy School Case Program is the world’s largest producer and repository of case studies designed for teaching about how government works and how public policy is made. Our cases are written to facilitate discussion-based, interactive learning in our degree and Executive Education programs.

Contact Information:
Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
Harvard Kennedy School

Sarah Grucza
Communications Specialist
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
Harvard Kennedy School