Developing Negotiation Case Studies

Developing Negotiation Case Studies

James K. Sebenius

Working Paper


Developing Negotiation Case Studies

Edited version forthcoming in the Negotiation Journal

October 6, 2010, v2.51  James K. Sebenius,  

Harvard Business School 


While a great deal of excellent advice exists for producing case studies on managerially relevant topics in general, negotiation cases have distinctive aspects that merit explicit treatment.  This article offers three types of tailored advice for producing cases on negotiation and related topics (such as mediation and diplomacy) that are primarily intended for classroom discussion: 1) how to decide whether a negotiation­related case lead is worth developing; 2) how to choose the perspective and case type most suited to one’s objectives; and 3) in by far the longest part of the discussion, ten nuts and bolts suggestions for structuring and producing an excellent negotiation case study.

Suppose you read about, participate in, to otherwise become aware of a negotiation that intrigues you as possible candidates for a case study. Perhaps a student, colleague, participant in an executive program, or private client suggests such an episode. You may consider researching and writing up the case yourself or you might supervise someone else for this purpose. Should you proceed with an investment of your scarce time and resources? If so, how? What’s the best casewriting advice you can give to a research assistant, a student (team) grappling with a course assignment to produce a case study, or someone else who is simply interested in writing up a negotiation for discussion purposes?

Developing Negotiation Case




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