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Research on Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures

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[Excerpt] Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) encompasses a range of procedures, such as mediation, arbitration, ombudspersons, and peer review, that provide alternative mechanisms for resolving disputes and conflicts, both in the workplace and in other settings. In the field of employment relations, recent years have seen a growing number and diversity of ADR procedures used, particularly in nonunion workplaces and in resolving employment law disputes (Ewing 1989; Feuille and Delaney 1992; Feuille and Chachere 1995; Colvin 2003a). Much of the past research on ADR has focused on the general question of what the most effective technique is for resolving conflicts. The assumption behind much of this research is that the primary goal of dispute resolution is simply the efficiency of resolution and that this is a goal shared by all parties. But dispute resolution does not occur in a vacuum, separated from other aspects of work and employment relations. Indeed, one of the initial questions to be addressed in evaluating ADR procedures is what they are an “alternative” to. Evaluating the impact of ADR procedures depends in large measure on how one evaluates the process that ADR is replacing. Furthermore, recent research is increasingly recognizing that ADR procedures can have a number of different outcomes for and impacts on different parties to a dispute. The impact of ADR procedures may be evaluated very differently for employers versus employees, but also for employees directly involved in disputes versus other employees in the same workplace.

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alternative dispute resolution; conflict resolution; arbitration; litigation; grievance mediation


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Required Publisher Statement: © Labor and Employment Relations Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Colvin, A. J. S., Klaas, B., & Mahony, D. (2006). Research on alternative dispute resolution procedures. In D. Lewin (Ed.) Contemporary issues in employment relations (pp. 103-147). Champaign, IL: Labor and Employment Relations Association.

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