Featured cases:
ESSEC Institute for Research and Education
on Negotiation (IRENE)

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The cases

Negotiation and mediation

IRENE An exciting new collection of negotiation cases is being launched by the Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation – known as IRENE which means ‘peace’ in Greek.

Available from The Case Centre, the collection offers an innovative range of tools for teaching negotiation, mediation, and conflict resolution across a variety of disciplines and perspectives. They include interactive simulations designed by selected academics and practitioners who want to share state-of-the-art research and proven best practice.


IRENE, set up in 1996 at ESSEC, France, is now a centre of expertise in negotiation, conflict resolution, mediation, stakeholders’ dialogue and the impact of corporations on fragile communities. The organisation has worked in 72 countries and has branches in Singapore and Brussels.

Below are six sample cases from the collection to give a flavour of what’s available. Browse the whole collection

IRENEInternational Air Negotiation

International air relations are explored in this case about high-powered negotiations between a French and Asian delegation. There is a lot at stake, including issues of national sovereignty and commercial considerations. Students are asked to take on various negotiating roles.  Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE, and Emmanuel Vivet, Associate Member of IRENE.

IRENEThe Republic of Tomibo

Group negotiation between top, middle and bottom groups is the focus of this case. The aim is to devise strategies that will maximise the overall success of the Republic of Tomibo. Students are given confidential instructions to prepare negotiations. Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE.

IRENEFabiessi and Cam’s Design

This case sets up an interview between a job applicant and a human resources director, with students invited to take on either role. The job applicant may not want to reveal their true situation; the human resources director is puzzled by the entrepreneur’s application. Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE, and Fabienne Reymondet.

IRENEThe European Union Border Control Mission

Students are invited to take on different roles in this bilateral negotiation between two Eastern European countries over a border conflict. The case focuses on the countries’ shared history of deep hostility. Can any agreement at all be reached? Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE, and Francesco Marchi, Director of the Negotiators of Europe Programme, IRENE.

IRENEThe Partnership Agreement in the Timber Industry

Against a backdrop of complex political and economic issues, students can negotiate proposals for a partnership agreement between an African Republic, and a regional community organisation comprising 27 western European countries. Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE, and Glenn Salic, Associate Member of IRENE.

IRENEThe Peace Conference in Casowe

This case explores the many challenges facing a major African country. Despite its wealth of mineral resources it suffers from violence, tension, drought and poverty. A regional authority for peace and security has offered to intervene. Students can take on various roles in this scenario. Find out more

By Aurélien Colson, Associate Professor of Political Science, ESSEC, and Director, IRENE, and Nathalie Klein, Programme Assistant, Negotiators of the World, IRENE.

Interested in finding out more?

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In addition to the cases discussed in this feature, there are many more available from IRENE. Browse all the cases

The author

Aurélien Colson

AuthorsAurélien discusses why cases are at the core of IRENE’s training methodology and his belief in the importance of ‘learning by doing’. He also explains why it’s so important to have cases that reflect current challenges and complexities.


At IRENE, we concentrate on three fields of expertise: negotiation and partnership building; mediation, conflict resolution and good governance; and stakeholder dialogue and social impact assessment.

Realistic and challenging

We train about 2,000 students, managers and senior executives every year and interactive cases and negotiation simulations are at the core of our training methodology.

At IRENE, we are in touch with research results, but also with practitioners’ best practices in various business sectors, including the public/diplomatic spheres. This provides us with top material that we can then ‘translate’ into realistic and challenging cases and simulations which are in tune with today’s complexities.

Joint effort

Alt textCase writing at IRENE is a joint effort. We analyse interesting real-life cases in which we are involved – for example, the recent negotiation leading to the cancellation of the African Football Cup due to the Ebola outbreak. We then enter into a drafting process, leading to a simulation which is tested with various audiences. This helps fine-tune the final product. Overall, the process can last from a few weeks to several months.

Learning curve

AuthorsNegotiation can be learnt. To speed up the learning curve, learning by doing is particularly effective. Indeed negotiation is a social interaction: you can read about it, you can analyse a negotiation case, but it is even better to experience it. This is why we favour negotiation simulations, usually directly inspired by real-life scenarios.


Our world is a complex one. Indeed, one of the reasons we have started developing our own negotiation cases and simulations, is that many exercises previously available on the market were too simple and not cross-cultural enough. We must help students prepare for the complexity of a globalised economy, with emerging powers, shifting norms, subtle systems of stakeholders, and public-private interactions.

European and interdisciplinary

IRENE’s cases offer a real European and interdisciplinary perspective, blending expertise from different fields, such as the private and business sectors; international relations, diplomacy, politics and public administration; industrial relations, civil society and NGOs.

If you share our motto – ‘Simulations and role-plays can help to address real challenges’ – do not hesitate to get in touch and submit your proposals!

Aurélien Colson, discusses IRENE’s aims

Aurélien Colson is Associate Professor of Political Science, at ESSEC, and Director at IRENE, the Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation
e colson@essec.edu


View a full list of featured cases