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.

Methods of Dispute Resolution: Building Trust in Online Mediation

Katie Shonk   •  04/05/2021   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, mediators and other negotiation practitioners often insisted on meeting in person, convinced that online methods of dispute resolution lack “the human touch”—the warmth, energy, body language, and other subtle factors that build essential ingredients in conflict resolution, including trust, empathy, and rapport.

But when lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions took hold in the … Read More 

Using Principled Negotiation to Resolve Disagreements

Katie Shonk   •  04/05/2021   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Parties can often reach a better agreement through integrative negotiation—that is, by identifying interests where they have different preferences and making tradeoffs among them. If you care more about what movie you see tonight, but your friend cares more about where you have dinner, for example, you can each get your preference on the issue … Read More 

Alternative Dispute Resolution Examples: Restorative Justice

Katie Shonk   •  03/08/2021   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution examples often highlight relatively cheap, quick, and efficient alternatives to litigation, such as mediation. Within the criminal justice system, cases increasingly are being resolved through a form of alternative dispute resolution called restorative justice. A recent news story has prompted discussion of how restorative justice is defined—and how it can be implemented … Read More 

Cultural Barriers and Conflict Negotiation Strategies: Apple’s Apology in China

Katie Shonk   •  02/16/2021   •  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