Transforming New Zealand Employment Relations: At the Intersection of Institutional Dispute Resolution and Workplace Conflict Management
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In New Zealand, the contemporary shift from highly regulated, collectivist employment rights to individual employment relationships included statutory direction to mediation. Good faith negotiation in the workplace and state provision of mediation were to be the primary mechanisms for resolution of ‘employment relationship problems’ (ERP). This paper investigates the intersection between workplace conflict management and institutional provision of mediation. We investigated ERP resolution by drawing on empirical evidence from 38 narrative interviews where participants recounted experiences of employment relationship problem (ERP) resolution. We analysed 243 ERP by comparing settlements to end employment relationships with resolution of ERP where relationships endured. We sought to understand why some ERP remained unresolved and/or escalated. We found that collaborative reflective sense-making had a positive impact on early workplace problem resolution while investigation and confidential settlement negotiations risked injustice. We present, therefore, some suggestions for embedding collaborative conflict management in the workplace.
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workplace conflict; dispute resolution; New Zealand; conflict management
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