Not only is there a lack of consensus about much of the terminology in the field of conflict resolution, there are a variety of approaches you might take in resolving a conflict and numerous factors that influence the choice of approach, if and when, in fact, you have a choice. Sometimes you don’t! The range of approaches includes but is not limited to: negotiation, facilitation, mediation, mediation-arbitration, arbitration, peer mediation, diplomacy, and so forth.
This week provides you with an overview of four approaches: negotiation, facilitation, mediation, and arbitration. The last three all involve third parties, which negotiation generally does not. Negotiation is at one end of the range of approaches under the conflict resolution umbrella. In negotiation, the parties involved resolve their own conflict and retain full control over the process and any decision made.* At the other end of the range is arbitration or adjudication, which involves a third party who controls both the process and the decision. Somewhere near the middle is mediation, in which a third party deeply explores the substance of the conflict and helps the parties reach their own decision. A mediator helps lead but does not control the process. Facilitation, which lies in the range between negotiation and mediation, is not precisely defined in the field and is used differently by people. Generally, however, it refers to a third party whose job it is to help to facilitate a dialog between parties to a conflict without extensively delving into helping them forge an agreement.
Again, this week provides you with an overview of the range of conflict resolution approaches. You will meet negotiation and third-party interventions again in upcoming weeks.
*Please note that in practice, negotiation may, in fact, include a third party. Because it is the only approach that may only include two parties, and because the approach is so fundamental to understanding the other approaches, it is addressed in its own week, separate from the approaches that always include a third party.
To prepare for this assignment:
- Review the online article, “Frequently Asked Questions About Conflict Resolution” at http:// Pay particular attention to the first four terms: negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and mediation-arbitration.
- Review the first three sections of the online article, “Facilitation” at http:// focusing on how facilitation is similar to and different from the other three approaches to conflict resolution.
- Review the two online articles on negotiation at http:// (first section titled “What is Negotiation?” only) and athttp:// (first four sections only). Pay attention to how negotiation is similar to and different from the other three approaches to conflict resolution.
- Review the online article “Mediation” at http:// and the article, “Mediation as a Method of Conflict Resolution: Two Cases.” Consider how mediation is similar to and different from the other three approaches to conflict resolution.
- Review the first three sections of the online article, “Arbitration” at http:// Pay attention to how negotiation is similar to and different from the other three approaches to conflict resolution.
- Think about how the four approaches are similar and how they are different and the kinds of conflicts for which each is best suited.
- Identify a public conflict, that is, one for which there is or was public knowledge and exposure, that interests you. It may be contemporary or historic. Select one that has not been resolved or contained but is in some way “active.”
- Consider the approaches under the conflict resolution umbrella and the factors that influence the choice of approach (when there is one).
- Analyze your conflict situation in terms of these factors (e.g., complexity, numbers of parties involved, how high the stakes are, etc.).
- Select an approach that you think might best be suited to resolve the conflict you selected and think about why you would choose it.
Note: As you progress through this course, you will be asked to choose examples of conflict to use in your assignments. Please vary the level of the conflicts that you select (interpersonal, intergroup, community, societal) assignment to assignment and week to week, so that all are represented equally.
The assignment: (2–3 pages)
- Compare (similarities and differences) the four approaches to conflict resolution: negotiation, facilitation, mediation, and arbitration.
- Explain what conclusions you drew or insights that you had as a result of doing the comparison.
- Describe the conflict that you selected, its central issues, and the parties involved.
- Describe the approach that you selected and explain why you selected it for your conflict, referencing the factors of the conflict that influenced your selection. Be specific and provide examples.
Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.