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Multipartial Approach to Dispute Resolution & Conflict Transformation

Multipartial approaches are defined by a distinctive set of beliefs and assumptions set out in the table below.  Often these these guiding understandings are contrasted to approaches that assume a 'positivist' theory of knowledge: that drive the theory and practice forward towards a singular generalizable truth and seek a unique best outcome. Peace-building and conflict resolution practices predicated on a mulipartial approach endeavor to draw out the many truths and localized time-defined perspectives that inform the conflict in the context of particular relationships and organizations.

The key driver of our multipartial approach to conflict resolution is our ability to help the conflict to be resolved through the participants sharing their worldviews and coming to terms with the differences in their knowledge base. In essence, to appreciate their differences. In this way a lasting closure to the conflict can be achieved.

   

Approaches to Dispute Resolution

Multipartial

Positivist/Conventionist

The realities are socially negotiated; there can be multiple realities

Reality is singular, tangible & objectively given

Productive understanding of phenomena is necessarily context dependent and are inter-twined with generalization efforts

Generalizations are possible, and are time and context free

Inquiry is value-grounded; articulating values ought to be the focus of inquiry of dispute resolution

Inquiry should be value-free

Best practice is context inter-related, deliberately seeks to render mutual understanding, engaging and synthesizing the truths of all participants, making transparent relationships/tasks; often offering solutions no one anticipated at the outset

Best practice is independent of context


Some Suggested Reading

Bolman, Lee G. & Deal, Terrance E. (1997). Reframing Organizations, Jossey-Bass Books.

Church, Cheyanne and Shouldice, J. (2002). The evaluation of conflict resolution interventions: Framing the state of play. Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland: INCORE.

Cloke, Kenneth (2001) Mediating Dangerously: the frontiers of conflict resolution. Jossey-Bass Books.

Cobb, S., & Rifkin, J. (1991). Practice and paradox: Deconstructing neutrality in mediation. Law and Social Inquiry, 36-62.

Davies, Rick and Dart, Jess (2005). The ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC) Technique: A Guide to its use. Available from www.mande.co.uk/docs/MSCGuide.htm

Fast, Larissa A., Schirch, Lisa and Neufeldt, Reina C. (2002). Towards ethically grounded conflict interventions: Reevaluating challenges in the 21st Century. International Negotiation 7:185-207.

Hall, Edward T. (1990). The Silent Language, Anchor Books.

Lederach, John Paul (2005). The Moral Imagination: The art and soul of building peace. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Rifkin, J., Millen, J., & Cobb, S. (1991). Toward a new discourse for mediation: A critique of neutrality. Mediation Quarterly, 9(2), 151-163.

Roe, Emery and Schulman, Paul R. (2008). High Reliability Management: Operating on the Edge. Stanford University Press, CA.

Schwandt, Thomas A. (1999). On understanding understanding. Qualitative Inquiry 5(4):451-464.

Wilkinson, Mary  (1992). How do we understand empathy systemically? Journal of Family Therapy 14: 193-205.

inquiries: info@multipartialmediation.com email: samg@gerszon.com