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Adaptive mediation: an evidence-based contingency approach to mediating conflict

Peter T. Coleman (Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, New York, USA and Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution)
Katharina G. Kugler (Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany)
Ljubica Chatman (Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, New York, USA and Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Although mediation has increased considerably in popularity and usage, it lacks a coherent framework and evidence base to illuminate the conditions under which different types of mediation strategies are most effective. This has resulted in a wide array of strategies and tactics being offered to mediators, with little sense of which may work best under different conditions. This paper aims to further develop a contingency model of adaptive mediation.

Design/methodology/approach

The current paper extends previous research on adaptive mediation by presenting findings from focus group and survey research with experienced mediators that help to further develop and specify a new adaptive model of mediation.

Findings

The findings support the utility of a contingency model of adaptive mediation based on the four fundamental dimensions of mediation situations (conflict intensity, situational constraints, cooperative vs competitive disputant relationships and overt vs covert issues and processes) for better understanding and predicting changes in mediator strategies independent of mediator style preferences.

Research limitations/implications

The present studies reflect the behavioral tactics experienced mediators recommend when facing the four distinct challenges to mediation. Research has yet to determine whether the sets of tactics recommended would actually be more successfully used in mediations presenting the four challenges. Subsequent research should assess the relative effects of the use of the different behavioral strategies under these conditions.

Originality/value

The program of research described and extended in this paper is an attempt to develop an integrative model of adaptive mediation, which can ultimately enhance the critical link between mediation research on the one hand and mediation practice on the other.

Keywords

Citation

Coleman, P.T., Kugler, K.G. and Chatman, L. (2017), "Adaptive mediation: an evidence-based contingency approach to mediating conflict", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 383-406. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-11-2016-0090

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited