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REFRAMING RESOLUTION– MANAGING INDIVIDUAL WORKPLACE CONFLICT ESRC Seminar Series 2012-2013 Swansea University 14 th February 2013 Experiencing the mediation.

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Presentation on theme: "REFRAMING RESOLUTION– MANAGING INDIVIDUAL WORKPLACE CONFLICT ESRC Seminar Series 2012-2013 Swansea University 14 th February 2013 Experiencing the mediation."— Presentation transcript:

1 REFRAMING RESOLUTION– MANAGING INDIVIDUAL WORKPLACE CONFLICT ESRC Seminar Series Swansea University 14 th February 2013 Experiencing the mediation process from the disputant’s perspective Tony Bennett (IROWE, Lancashire Business School) N)

2  Acas sponsored research  Investigate a little researched element of workplace mediation in the UK: ‘How is mediation experienced by the disputant?’  Methodology adopted  The key findings  Summary and next steps

3  Alternative dispute resolution ( Roche and Teague, 2012)  Sectoral and thematic studies (Latreille, 2010, 2011; Latreille et al. 2012; Bennett, 2012)  Case study (Saundry et al, 2011; Saundry and Wibberley, 2012).  Conceptual model (Ridley-Duff and Bennett, 2011)  Draw on the long-standing work in the US (Shapiro and Brett, 1993; Bingham and Pitts, 2002; Bingham, 2004; Lipksy and Seeber, 2001; Lipksy, 2007)

4  With the exception of Acas’s own evaluation of its services, (Fox, 2005; Seargeant, 2005; Acas 2011, 2012).  The ‘voice’ and experiences of disputants has not been explored.

5  The research aimed to extend our understanding of mediation in four key respects:  Build on our knowledge of the mediation process by capturing the views and experiences of disputants.  Explore the trajectory of individual disputes and the rationale underpinning individuals’ participation in mediation.  Critically assess participants’ views as to their expectations of mediation, the effectiveness of mediation provision and sustainability of outcomes.  Assess the impact of mediation in enhancing the overall efficacy of conflict management, and the employer/employee relationship.

6  Sample ◦ Acas disputants Private providers  In-house services  21 in total  Participants were self-selecting  Semi-structured face to face and telephone interviews, minutes, 18 hours of data  Sensitivity in the process

7  Gibbons (2007).  Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (2009).  Business Innovation and Skills initiatives (2011).  Costs saving  Repair and maintain relationships  Greater sense of ownership for the disputants  Non blame = ‘win-win’  Alternative to potentially more damaging ‘traditional’ dispute resolution routes  We use the facilitative model in the UK

8  Nature of the disputants ◦ Large organisation ◦ Public sector ◦ Majority Acas mediated ◦ 40% male, 66% complainants, 50% bullying cases ◦ Majority one disputant of the case interviewed  Nature of the disputes ◦ Professional disagreements and personality clashes ◦ Performance management, bullying and harassment ◦ Discrimination and bullying – suitable for mediation?

9  Initiating mediation – the key role of HR  Mediation – a last resort?  Advice and support – the problem of isolation Attitudes to mediation  Prior knowledge of mediation  Positive views – resolution, safety and justice  Scepticism and resistance  A voluntary process?

10  The structure of mediation  The role of the mediator – the importance of trust and rapport  Facilitating settlement or transforming relationships?  The impact on participants – power and perspective  The importance of ‘administration’  Following up mediation - unresolved issues

11  Success and failure  Success and sustainability  A source of voice and empowerment  Confidentiality and sustainability  Mediation – transforming attitudes and conflict management?  Changing attitudes to conflict – pragmatism and development.  Impact on organisational approaches to conflict

12  Growing interest by government, practitioners and academics  However, better understanding the experiences of the disputants is critical  Findings suggests that mediation may have a wider application than previously thought  Research revealed that managers often felt under pressure to agree to mediation.  In some cases, a lack of enthusiasm for the process did not prevent a positive outcome

13  Advice and support would appear to be particularly important.  The findings also question whether mediation is used as a means of early dispute resolution.  Most interviewees felt that mediation would be more effective if used at an earlier point in the dispute but found going through mediation stressful  The data provides key insights into the outcomes of mediation – i.e. degree of sustainability  The benefits of mediation can extend beyond an agreement or settlement – even where there is little chance of a sustained resolution, the simple fact that individuals have an opportunity to voice their concerns and exert some control over their situation can help to maintain the employment relationship.

14  Acas (2011b) ‘Acas Mediations 2010/11: Responses from participants and commissioners’, Acas Research Paper, 12/11.  Acas (2012) ‘Acas Mediations 2011/12: Responses from participants and commissioners’, Acas Research Paper, 16/12.  Bennett, T (2012) The Role of Mediation: A Critical Analysis of the Changing Nature of Dispute Resolution in the Workplace Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 41 Iss. 4  Bingham, L. and Pitts, D. (2002), "Highlight of Mediation at Work: Studies of the National REDRESS Evaluation Project", Negotiation Journal, April 2002, pp  Bingham L. (2004) ‘Employment Dispute Resolution: The case for mediation’, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 22:1-2,  Fox, M. (2005) Evaluation of the Acas pilot of mediation and employment law visits to small companies, Acas Research and Evaluation.  Gibbons, M. (2007) A review of employment dispute resolution in Great Britain, London: DTI.  Latreille, P. (2010), Mediation at Work: Of Success, Failure and Fragility, Acas Paper 06/10, (Acas Publications, London).

15  Latreille, P. (2011), Mediation: A Thematic Review of Acas/CIPD Evidence, Acas Paper 13/11, (Acas Publications, London).  Latreille, P., Buscha, F. and Conte, A. (2012), ‘Are you experienced? SME use of and attitude towards workplace mediation’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23, 3,  Lipsky, D. (2007), “Conflict resolution and the transformation of the social contract”, Labor and Employment Relations Association Series Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting January 5–7, 2007, Chicago, Illinois.  Lipsky, D. and Seeber, R. (2001), “Resolving workplace disputes in the United States: The growth of alternative dispute resolution in employment relations”, Journal of Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2:3, Fall, 2000, pp  Ridley-Duff, R. and Bennett, A. (2011) ‘Mediation: Developing a theoretical framework for understanding alternative dispute resolution’, Industrial Relations Journal, 42:2,  Saundry, R., McArdle, L. and Thomas, P. (2011) ‘Transforming Conflict Management in the Public Sector? Mediation, Trade Unions and Partnerships in a Primary Care Trust, Acas Research Paper, 01/11.  Saundry, R. and Wibberley, G. (2012) ‘Managing Individual Conflict in the Private Sector - A Case Study’, Acas Research Papers, 05/12.  Sergeant, J. (2005) The Acas small firms mediation pilot: research to explore parties' experiences and views on the value of mediation, Acas research and evaluation.  Shapiro, D. and Brett, J. (1993), “Comparing three processes underlying judgments of procedural justice: A field study of mediation and arbitration”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 65 No. 6, pp


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