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.

In this free special report Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, the editors of Negotiation cull valuable negotiation strategies and curate popular content to provide you with a concise guide on how to improve your dispute resolution skills.

Negotiating terms and conditions to reach an agreement

PON Staff   •  03/25/2015   •  Filed in Daily, 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 

Google’s Approach to Dispute Resolution:

Katie Shonk   •  03/18/2015   •  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’ services. … Read More 

An Alternative to Traditional Dispute Resolution Instruction

PON Staff   •  03/11/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution, Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation (Pedagogy @ PON)

Many negotiation and mediation instructors draw from other disciplines for a range of purposes. Insights from social psychology, for instance, can help students understand, explain, or predict certain interpersonal and inter-group dynamics. Ideas from economics and game theory can shed light on various value-creation principles. The performing arts, including improvisational theater, can help negotiation students … Read More 

Dispute Resolution and Business Negotiations: Negotiating Under a Blue Moon

Keith Lutz   •  02/16/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Adapted from, “Negotiating Under a Blue Moon,” first published in the June 2009 issue of Negotiation.

The following question was posed to our Negotiation Coach for June 2009, Gregory Barron, a professor at Harvard Business School.

Question: I am planning to relocate my retail store to an ideal location in a small shopping mall. Aware that I’ve … Read More 

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

PON Staff   •  01/23/2015   •  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 

Not-So-Privileged Information

PON Staff   •  01/19/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

The law of attorney-client privilege protects certain communications on the assumption that clients will reveal critical information to their attorneys only if they know such disclosures will not harm them in court. Despite the inadmissibility of such evidence, judges can have difficulty disregarding privileged information that sheds light on a case. … Read More 

To Avoid the Need for Dispute Resolution, Plan Ahead

Katie Shonk   •  12/16/2014   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

When disputes flare up in business relationships, a failure to thoroughly anticipate and prepare for the future is often to blame. Consider a dispute that has arisen surrounding the estate of Maurice Sendak, the acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator of dozens of books, including the masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are. As Randy Kennedy … Read More 

Dispute Resolution with Spotify? Taylor Swift Shakes It Off

Katie Shonk   •  11/12/2014   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

In negotiation, our success often hinges on our bargaining power—which in turn can depend on forces beyond our control. That truism was highlighted in two recent disputes arising from business negotiations over the pricing of copyrighted material in the digital era, one from the music world, the other from publishing. First, country-music star Taylor Swift … Read More 

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