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 Dispute Resolution, Try Going to the Top

PON Staff   •  10/30/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

When two parties are attempting to resolve a contentious dispute, the most effective peacemakers may be those at the highest levels. That’s the lesson from recent productive talks between President Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai on the issue of rules for detaining terrorism suspects. … Read More 

Managing Conflict Outside of the Courts

PON Staff   •  08/06/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

In May, Alex Scally, one half of the Baltimore musical duo Beach House, was surprised to hear from fans in Britain claiming that a new song by the band was being used in a Volkswagen television ad. Scally hurried to watch the ad online. He and his partner Victoria Legrand had repeatedly rejected lucrative offers … Read More 

The Heat of the Moment

PON Staff   •  07/09/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Imagine that after ample preparation and weeks of negotiations with three potential vendors, you have to choose among their proposals, each of which has numerous strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, you have only five minutes left to make this tough decision.

How should you spend this precious time? Ap Dijksterhuis and other researchers at the University … Read More 

When Umbrella Agreements Spring Leaks in Dispute Resolution

PON Staff   •  07/05/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Negotiators tend to want the best of both worlds. When reaching an agreement, they want to nail down parties’ respective rights and responsibilities, but they also want to retain the flexibility to deal with ever-changing business conditions.

One solution to this apparent dilemma is to craft umbrella, or framework, agreements. (The term umbrella is more commonly … Read More 

Taking ADR Too Far

PON Staff   •  06/01/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

More and more companies are inserting alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clauses in their contracts with customers and vendors, and even in agreements with their own employees. ADR processes such as mediation and arbitration can be beneficial for all concerned if they help avoid the cost, delay, and uncertainty of going to court. Mediation, in particular, … Read More 

Predicting Your Response to Conflict

PON Staff   •  04/27/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Imagine an upcoming negotiation. How will you respond if your opponent seems bent on provoking an argument? If you’re like most people, you’ll have difficulty predicting your precise response. Professor Dan Gilbert of Harvard University found that when asked how a positive or negative event will affect your happiness, people accurately predict the direction of … Read More 

Are We in Competition?

PON Staff   •  04/26/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Ford vs. GM. Coke vs. Pepsi. Oxford vs. Cambridge. These famous rivalries remind us that the top two achievers in a given realm often compete fiercely with each other.

Now Stephen M. Garcia and Richard Gonzalez of the University of Michigan and Avishalom Tor of the University of Haifa have produced a useful series of studies … Read More 

Hurry Up and Wait

PON Staff   •  04/25/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

Suppose that one bargainer is impatient, gritting her teeth and thinking, “Cut to the chase, for Pete’s sake!” Feeling pressured, the other person wants to say, “Easy on the coffee, pal! Let’s give this the time it deserves.”

According to a recent study by professor Karen J. Jansen of Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of … Read More 

Are You Listening to Me?

PON Staff   •  04/24/2012   •  Filed in Dispute Resolution

For your next negotiation, what would you pay for a gadget that shows you how well you’re engaging the other side?

It would tell you when you’ve been persuasive enough to close a deal.

It would also alert you when the other side has tuned you out, so you’d know how to take a different tack.

A team … Read More