Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution generally refers to one of several different processes used to resolve disputes between parties, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, collaborative law, and litigation. Dispute resolution is the process of resolving a dispute or a conflict by meeting at least some of each side’s needs and addressing their interests. Dispute resolution strategies include fostering a rapport, considering interests and values separately, appealing to overarching values, and indirect confrontation.

Conflict resolution, to use another common term, is a relatively new field, emerging after World War II. Scholars from the Program on Negotiation were leaders in establishing the field.

Mediation can be effective at allowing parties to vent their feelings and fully explore their grievances. Working with parties together and sometimes separately, mediators try to help them hammer out a resolution that is sustainable, voluntary, and nonbinding. In arbitration, the arbitrator listens as each side argues its case and presents relevant evidence, then renders a binding decision. Litigation typically involves a defendant facing off against a plaintiff before either a judge or a judge and jury. The judge or jury is responsible for weighing the evidence and making a ruling. Information conveyed in hearings and trials usually enters the public record.

There are many aspects of disputes, including value creation opportunities, agency issues, organizational influences, ethical considerations, the role of law, and decision tools.

Articles offer numerous examples of dispute resolution and explore various aspects of it, including international conflict resolution, how it can be useful in your personal life, skills needed to achieve it, and training that hones those skills.


Discover how to improve your dispute resolution skills in this free report, Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from Harvard Law School.


Conflict Negotiation Strategies: Apple’s Apology in China

Katie Shonk   •  06/13/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

When dealing with a difficult counterpart, it helps to take a conciliatory approach to the bargaining table. While apologies necessarily involve moments of vulnerability, they can also open doors to value creation and strengthen the relationship you have with your bargaining counterpart. Let’s look back at Apple’s apology in China for its maligned warranty policies … Read More 

Negotiation Research Demonstrates the Impact of Memory on Decision Making Processes in Bargaining Scenarios

Keith Lutz   •  06/09/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Recent negotiation research published by Psychological Science from Program on Negotiation faculty member and assistant professor at Harvard University’s Department of Psychology Joshua Greene and his colleague Elinor Amit explores the impact vivid mental imagery has on decision-making processes for negotiators. The negotiation skills insights that can be obtained from such negotiation research are many … Read More 

How Mediation Works

Katie Shonk   •  06/07/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

When negotiators can’t come to agreement but want to avoid an expensive, time-consuming, and potentially rancorous lawsuit, mediation is often their most logical choice. Mediation can help to resolve a wide range of disputes. … Read More 

What are the Three Basic Types of Dispute Resolution? What to Know About Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation

PON Staff   •  05/31/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Suppose that in each case, the parties and their lawyers have exhausted their attempts to negotiate a resolution on their own. They’re ready for outside help in ending their dispute, yet they don’t know where to turn.

When it comes to dispute resolution, we now have many choices. Understandably, disputants are often confused about which process … Read More 

Negotiation Case Studies: Google’s Approach to Dispute Resolution

Katie Shonk   •  05/23/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

In the face of antitrust charges, Google’s new guiding principle for dispute resolution is “Don’t litigate, negotiate,” according to the Wall Street Journal. In recent years, U.S. and European regulators have accused Google of abusing its dominance in online searches by promoting its own services, such as Google Shopping, at the expense of its competitors’ … Read More 

Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics for Getting What You Want at the Negotiation Table: Patience is a Winning Negotiation Skill

PON Staff   •  05/12/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

On April 9, the hearts of internet entrepreneurs everywhere must have skipped a beat at the news that Facebook was paying $1 billion in cash and stock to buy Instagram, a San Francisco-based start-up. Less than two years old, Instagram offers mobile apps that allow users to add effects to their smartphone photos and share … Read More 

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