Summary of "Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution"

Summary of

Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution

By John Burton and Frank Dukes

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution. John Burton and Frank Dukes. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990, 230 pp.

Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution describes different types of conflicts and different approaches to conflict management. It matches the different types of conflict with the most appropriate management process.

Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution will be of interest to those who seek to understand which approach to conflict management is best suited to which kind of conflict. This work is divided into twenty-two chapters in five parts, With an introduction and an appendix. The appendix presents a guide to facilitated conflict resolution procedures. In the Introduction the authors introduce the terms and categories which will be used throughout the text. They sketch the types of conflicts which will be addressed, briefly describe failed mechanisms for managing such conflicts, and describe the consequences of those failures.

Part I discusses the problems of conflict management. The first chapter introduces the problems of conflict management generally. Conflict management is called for in the face of "disagreements and arguments over choices and preferences that result from interactions between parties who have common interests and goals, and who differ only on the means of achieving them."[17] Conflict management is generally pursued via mediation. Chapter Two introduces mediation, and provides a broad overview of the mediation process. Subsequent chapters focus on particular types of mediation: divorce mediation, victim-offender reconciliation, community mediation, environmental and public policy mediation, and interactive management. Interactive management techniques are designed to problems which involve large amounts of data.

Part II addresses settlement. Judicial settlement processes are most appropriate for cases where there is dispute over interests. Settlements may be imposed or enforced by some authority, and so Chapter Eight begins by examining legitimation and social norms. The authors introduce the notions of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and arbitration, and briefly consider ethical issues posed by the settlement process. Subsequent chapters discuss specific settlement processes, and attempt to determine which processes are appropriate for which kinds of cases. Chapters Nine through Eleven discuss adjudication, arbitration and ombudsmanry respectively.

Part III explores conflict resolution. Generally, resolution seeks an outcome which is neither imposed nor requires enforcement. Different theories of conflict yield different approaches to conflict resolution. Subsequent chapters discuss specific approaches to conflict resolution, and describe the theoretical views which support each approach. Chapters Thirteen through Seventeen discuss citizen diplomacy, T-Group Resolution, Track Two diplomacy, Problem-solving conflict resolution, and deductive analysis, respectively.

Part IV addresses issues of conflict prevention (prevention) and education. Prevention calls for "decision-making that is designed to avoid or treat at the source" various problems, disputes and conflicts. A key part of effective prevention is better education. Chapter Twenty examines two educational practices, implemented at the primary and secondary levels, which have the potential to advance prevention. These are cooperative learning, and student conflict manager programs.

Part V concludes this work with a discussion of assessment of conflict management processes, and a discussion of ethical issues. Chapter Twenty-One suggests criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of conflict management processes, and discusses some recent criticisms of the various processes. Chapter Twenty-Two discusses the need for a professional ethics to guide the practice of mediators, facilitators, arbiters and so on.

Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement, and Resolution offers a clear and understandable overview of contemporary conflict management processes, and provides guidance in evaluating and selecting the process most appropriate to the conflict in question.