Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2011

Negotiating the Path of Abraham

by James K. Sebenius and Kimberlyn Leary


The Abraham Path Initiative board faces strategic and negotiating challenges in revitalizing a route of Middle East cultural tourism following Abraham's path 4000 years ago. The Path begins in the ancient ruins of Harran, in modern-day Turkey, where Abraham first heard the call to "go forth." It passes through some of the world's most revered cultural, historical, and holy sites, ending in the city of Hebron/AI-Khalil at the tomb of Abraham. With Abraham as a venerated patriarchal figure for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity--monotheistic religions whose adherents have so often clashed--the potential unifying power of this conception has attracted a remarkable range of supporters from around the world as well as considerable media interest. From a notion crystallized at Harvard in 2004, this idea has been carefully negotiated into a concrete reality with supporting country organizations in Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. With the endorsement of the U.N.'s Alliance of Civilizations, over 300 kilometers of the Path have now been opened to a growing number of travelers ranging from student study groups to international leaders, all walking stretches of the Path. Yet, momentum has stalled in key areas, strategic and operational issues remain unresolved, and the financial future of the initiative is clouded. Soon the board will meet to debate and decide these issues.

Keywords: Nonprofit Organizations; Governing and Advisory Boards; Partners and Partnerships; Negotiation; Social Entrepreneurship; Religion; Culture; Tourism Industry; Israel; Syria; Middle East; Turkey; Jordan;


Sebenius, James K., and Kimberlyn Leary. "Negotiating the Path of Abraham." Harvard Business School Case 912-017, December 2011.