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.


Alternative Dispute Resolution: Corporate Stakeholder Engagement and Mineral Extraction in Colombia

Lawrence Susskind   •  04/25/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

I want to make four simple points regarding corporate stakeholder engagement and mineral extraction in Colombia. I presented these ideas several weeks ago at a Harvard Law School seminar sponsored by the Colombian government. We had senior officials present along with a great many Colombian graduate students studying at Boston-area schools. I think these prescriptions … Read More 

Dealing with Difficult People: The Right Way to Regulate Emotion

PON Staff   •  04/21/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Emotional flooding – when strong, specific, and often negative feelings overwhelm us – poses obvious hazards to negotiators, who need to be able to think clearly when faced with the complex, strategically demanding task of creating and claiming value.

For this reason, emotional regulation can be an essential component of negotiation.

But different types of regulation create … Read More 

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Techniques: Negotiating Conditions

PON Staff   •  04/18/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

A married couple was debating whether their four-year-old daughter should attend public or private elementary school. It was a difficult issue, and Mike had a tendency to walk out when the conversation got heated. Frustrated, Lisa turned to negotiating terms and conditions just as a negotiator would in a business deal.

Lisa imposed a condition on … Read More 

Negotiation Techniques and Negotiation Tips: Diagnose Your Negotiating Style

PON Staff   •  04/12/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Negotiators tend to fall into very specific negotiation styles or employ similar sets of negotiation techniques. Negotiation research has identified four such negotiation styles: individualists, cooperators, competitives, and altruists. Learn how each negotiation style impacts the negotiation process at the bargaining table and how to adjust your negotiation strategies accordingly. … Read More 

How Expressing Disappointment Impacts Offers in Negotiations

PON Staff   •  04/07/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Most of us have had the experience of feeling disappointment during a negotiation. If a counterpart picks up on this disappointment, will it affect the offers she makes?

Professor Gert-Jan Lelieveld of Leiden University and his colleagues considered this question in a recent study. In four experiments, college students were assigned to play a simple negotiating … Read More 

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

PON Staff   •  03/29/2016   •  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 

Employee Grievances: Most Legal Disputes are Resolved in Litigation or Arbitration?

PON Staff   •  03/24/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

A common question asked is, “If most legal disputes are resolved in litigation, is there room for arbitration or mediation?”

In 2000, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), seeing the surge in employee grievances and litigation in other companies, implemented a revolutionary dispute system they called SOLUTIONS to deal with its own internal disputes.

Dispute Systems Design, or DSD, is … Read More 

For Kesha, Support of Peers Could Bring Settlement Leverage

Katie Shonk   •  03/15/2016   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Business negotiators are typically advised to keep their dealmaking and dispute resolution efforts private. Complaining about an adversary’s negotiation and conflict resolution strategies to the press or on social media can escalate disputes and increase the likelihood of impasse.

Yet when a negotiation becomes so contentious that it requires formal dispute resolution, such as a lawsuit, … Read More 

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