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The effectiveness of a mediation program in symmetrical versus asymmetrical neighbor‐to‐neighbor conflicts

Elze G. Ufkes (Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Ellen Giebels (Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk & Safety, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Sabine Otten (Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Karen I. van der Zee (Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 28 September 2012

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Abstract

Purpose

The last decades, neighborhood mediation programs have become an increasingly popular method to deal with conflicts between neighbors. In the current paper the aim is to propose and show that conflict asymmetry, the degree to which parties differ in perceptions of the level of conflict, may be important for the course and outcomes of neighborhood mediation.

Design/methodology/approach

Data for testing the hypotheses were based on coding all (261) files of neighbor conflicts reported to a Dutch neighborhood mediation program in the period from 2006 through 2008.

Findings

As expected, cases were more often about asymmetrical than symmetrical conflicts. Moreover, compared to symmetrical conflicts, asymmetrical conflicts less often led to a mediation session; the degree of escalation was lower; and, particularly in asymmetrical conflicts, a mere intake session already contributed to positive conflict outcomes.

Originality/value

Past research on the effectiveness of mediation programs mainly focused on cases in which a mediation session effectively took place. However, persuading parties to participate in a mediation session forms a major challenge for mediators. In fact, many cases that are signed‐up for mediation programs do not result in an actual mediation. The current study examines the entire mediation process – from intake to follow‐up.

Keywords

Citation

Ufkes, E.G., Giebels, E., Otten, S. and van der Zee, K.I. (2012), "The effectiveness of a mediation program in symmetrical versus asymmetrical neighbor‐to‐neighbor conflicts", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 440-457. https://doi.org/10.1108/10444061211267290

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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