Research on conflict mediation presents a scattered, piecemeal understanding of what determines mediators’ strategies and tactics and ultimately what constitutes…
Research on conflict mediation presents a scattered, piecemeal understanding of what determines mediators’ strategies and tactics and ultimately what constitutes successful mediation. This paper presents research on developing a unifying framework – the situated model of mediation – that identifies and integrates the most basic dimensions of mediation situations. These dimensions combine to determine differences in mediator’s strategies that in turn influence mediation processes and outcomes.
The approach used by this paper was twofold. First, the existing empirical literature was reviewed on factors that influence mediator’s behaviors. Based on the findings of this review, a survey study was conducted with experienced mediators to determine the most fundamental dimensions of mediation situations affecting mediators’ behaviors and mediation processes and outcomes. The data were analyzed through exploratory factor analysis and regression analysis.
The results of the study show that four of the most fundamental dimensions of mediation situations include: low vs high intensity of the conflict, cooperative vs competitive relationship between the parties, tight vs flexible context and overt vs covert processes and issues. Each of these factors was found to independently predict differences in mediators’ behaviors and perceptions of processes and outcomes. These dimensions are then combined to constitute the basic dimensions of the situated model of mediation.
The situated model of mediation is both heuristic and generative, and it shows how a minimal number of factors are sufficient to capture the complexity of conflict mediation in a wide range of contexts.