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.


Difficult Situation Examples: The Hostage Negotiator’s Drill

PON Staff   •  08/31/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Here are some negotiating skills and negotiation techniques from the world of crisis negotiations: Hostage negotiators stress the importance of discussing the “drill”—goals, ground rules, and operating principles—with their team before beginning talks with a hostage taker.

Such negotiation teams are likely to commit to working together as slowly as needed to resolve a standoff. This type of agreement can … Read More 

Conflict Negotiation Strategies: Apple’s Apology in China

Katie Shonk   •  08/17/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

In China this April, Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook made the unusual move of apologizing to Chinese customers for his company’s warranty policy and promised to make amends, the New York Times reports.

On March 15, International Consumers’ Day in China, the nation’s largest state-run television network criticized Apple for giving iPhone customers in China a … Read More 

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

Lawrence Susskind   •  07/27/2015   •  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 

Conflict Negotiation Strategies: When Do Employees Choose to Negotiate?

PON Staff   •  07/15/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

More broadly, how does the desire to negotiate stack up against other workplace decision-making procedures?

Negotiation seems to be the preferred decision-making mechanism when employees are seeking individually tailored solutions, such as adjustments to travel and work schedules.

On the other hand, they prefer their compensation to be based on performance criteria and want company-wide policies to … Read More 

What is Dispute Resolution in Law: The Ins and Outs of Arbitration

PON Staff   •  07/06/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

A “one-shot” form of dispute resolution, arbitration is usually faster and cheaper than litigation. In addition, rather than being assigned a judge, parties are able to select their arbitrator.

What is dispute resolution in law and how do alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like arbitration operate inside and outside a courtroom? Here are some examples of types … Read More 

Alternative Dispute Resolution Definition and Negotiation Skills: New York Fast-Food Workers Find a Workaround to Protest for Higher Wages

PON Staff   •  07/01/2015   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

On November 28, dozens of employees at several fast-food restaurants in New York City walked off their jobs and demanded better pay and unionization. In doing so, they launched what is believed to be the largest coordinated campaign in the United States to unionize fast-food workers from different restaurants, reports Steven Greenhouse in the New … Read More 

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