NOTE: Third edition of Olin Life in China now available!

Olin Life In China:
An American Insurance Company Enters China.
Third Edition
A role-play simulation designed to teach cross-cultural negotiation strategies. (2011)


Maureen Maguire Lewis
The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

Senior Editors

Dr. Oded Shenkar and Dr. Roy J. Lewicki
The Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University


91 pages, including appendix and bibliography.

Level of Difficulty

Appropriate for advanced undergraduates, graduate MBAs, and executive education levels.

Issues Involved

Chinese business culture, negotiation strategies and tactics, insurance joint ventures, devolution of state-owned enterprises in China.


A fictional Ohio insurance corporation, Olin Life Insurance Company, wishes to expand. Olin’s CEO, James Terence, views expansion into Asia, specifically China, as a chance to grow the company for the long term. Terence is not alone. With China’s 2002 accession to the World Trade Organization, hundreds of European and American insurance companies are seeking ways to tap into what they see as the limitless Chinese market: China’s population of 1.3 billion people live long lives and has one of the highest savings rates in the world. As China progressively opens its markets and dismantles its state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the need for some sort of safety net for millions of Chinese workers increases with each month.

Historically, the SOEs provided workers with a systematic safety net, called the “iron rice bowl.” This phrase meant that arrangements for taking care of all aspects of people’s physical lives — jobs, housing, food, medical needs, and education — were provided by the enterprises. The “iron” meant that these benefits were unbreakable, lasting, and reliable. Now that the SOEs are disappearing, so too are the benefits that protected Chinese workers and their families from cradle to grave.

James Terence will send three of the company’s top officers to Shanghai to begin a negotiation process with the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

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OC01 Instructor’s Manual

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OC02  Complete Student Packet

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OCUS1  US Role 1: May Terence 

$12.00 Add to cart

OCUS2 US Role 2: Erin Solomon

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OCUS3  US Role 3: Thomas Rainey Taylor

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OCUS4 US Role 4: Process Observer

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OCC1 China Role 1: Ms. Li Yu Song

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OCC2 China Role 2: Mr. Ma Jianju

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OCC3 China Role 3: Mr. Yong Pan

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OCC4 China Role 4: Process Observer

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