Conflict Resolution

CPR’s Third Volume on Employment ADR

Last year the International Institute of Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”) published a new volume, Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes. It is a fine book, an deserves to be a steady reference to practitioners and systems designers in the field.

The book is a joint publication of CPR and Cornell’s Scheinman Institute, and reflects the leadership of Jay W. Waks, Chair of the CPR Employment Disputes Committee, and Nancy L. Vanderlip, former senior counsel to several corporations and Chair of the Subcommittee charged with the project. It is a compendium of essays contributed by members of the Committee, each a contribution to the thought-leadership at which CPR is unparalleled.

David Lipsky of Cornell writes an overview of how corporations use ADR in employment, presenting useful findings from corporate surveys conducted in 1997, 2011, and 2013. He concludes that a growing number of companies rely on ADR as their principle approach to employment disputes, embracing a wide array of ADR techniques. In a subsequent chapter Lipsky focuses on the evolution of Integrated Conflict Management Systems and notes intrinsic organizational obstacles to their adoption, independent of their benefit.

Judy Cohen offers a chapter on approaches to stakeholder engagement in developing and nurturing such systems, including examples of companies’ roll-out materials and online resource centers. In that theme, Michael J. Wolf offers an approach to the use of online tools in service of workplace dispute identification and resolution. These range from web conferencing to sophisticated online dispute resolution platforms.

Employee hotlines are the subject of Stephanie Morse-Shamosh‘s chapter, which itemizes the many considerations in determining a hot;line’s function, attributes and trustworthiness. Mary Rowe and Randy Williams write on the practice — still too infrequent, in the view of many observers — of the organizational ombudsman.

Finally, Cynthia S. Mazur introduces a practice to which I have not previously given enough thought — the skills of a “conflict coach” in service of the goal of preventing, rather than resolving, conflicts that too often — and in her view unnecessarily — absorb institutional resources through formal mediation or arbitration.

While I served as Executive Vice President and Interim President of CPR, the Institute published two books in this area: What Jay Waks in his introduction calls the Fat Book and the Skinny Book. This newest publication is perhaps the Goldilocks Book — just right!



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