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Case Study: Applying the Mediation process to a school conflict. Identifying opportunity and applicability

Dr Jack Jacoby
DBA, MBA, BA, CMC, MIMC, AFAIM
Managing Director - Jacoby Consulting Group

The intention of this paper is to explain a school-based situation in which traditional consulting methodologies were applied and where successful outcomes were achieved. The classic mediation process will be overlaid to determine where mediation could have been applied and whether, if applied, the outcomes would have been as effective or more effective.

1: A Description of the situation

Background

Identifying the root cause of falling enrolments and then developing a strategy to reverse the trend was the challenge facing a relatively new Melbourne private school. The methods used to solve the problem involved the use of commonly used non-educational-based techniques.

The school in question caters to school starters through to the end of senior school and showed considerable growth and consolidation in its early years but since then (about 7 years), enrolments had steadily declined.

The management of the school attempted to arrest this decline but had been unable to identify a single cause of the problem, hence unable to apply an effective solution strategy.

Some of the impacting issues the school faced in trying to deal with falling enrolments in particular, and management of the organisation in general, included:

Instability/conflict between the senior teaching and administrative staff and school management, which polarised sections of the school community. The Board suspected that this dysfunctional environment might have contributed to student departures.

The Head of the Primary School was zealously religious and had imposed her beliefs on students. Some parents and other staff were concerned about the fundamentalist nature of her teaching despite the school being based on Christian values. Once before management had confronted the Head about her teaching but backed down not wanting to risk parent anger as she was an exceptional teacher on all other criteria. Management was certain that her teaching style and ethos disenfranchised parents.

The recession was suspected as contributing to the declining enrolments as parents were suspected of having difficulty in paying tuition fees. However, the decline started prior to the recession and could not explain the increasing enrolments of other similar schools in the area.

Lack of necessary competencies of key administrative staff was suspected of contributing to the School's inability to arrest the decline in enrolments and to encourage new students. These inadequacies often led to protracted situations between administration and teaching staff.

Other efforts by the Marketing Director to increase enrolments through promotional activities have been ineffective.

It was felt that the way the School saw itself might have been inconsistent with the needs of its market. Conversely, the market may have changed over recent years and may have required services that the school wasn't providing.

Some stakeholders in the school community felt that the School lacked certain physical resources, such as sports facilities, which caused potential parents to opt for better-equipped schools. This led the Board to seriously consider a major capital building program to overcome the perceived physical deficiencies of the school.

The school was divided in their loyalty to the Principal. Some saw him as an excellent front person while others saw him as professionally incompetent.

These issues vexed the Board who had contemplated, among other things, the replacement of the Principal with one who was more "market oriented" and who was able to promote the School and rebuild its academic and financial viability through increased enrolments. Other senior staff replacements were being seriously considered.

It seemed clear to the consultants, that no one associated with the School was really sure of what caused or contributed to the School's falling enrolments. But what was clear was that many of the solutions mooted would have major consequences for the school - particularly if they were not the right solutions.

The school had been very prudent in its borrowings for its existing buildings and facilities. This enabled their fee structure to be relatively competitive with other similar schools. Had the school embarked on a major capital program, for example, this would have changed its fee structure significantly and may have actually worsened the problem rather than remedy it.

The Problem

The challenge facing the School, and therefore the consultants, was quite clear and simple. It was to develop a strategy that would increase enrolments.

Previous attempts to solve the problem

In an effort to identify the cause of falling enrolments, the School contracted educational consulting specialists. They undertook a research project based on the premise that the cause of falling enrolments was the disparity between what parents (and ex-parents) considered to be the attributes of their "Ideal" school and the attributes of this School.

The consultants undertook a quantitative survey of a range of target respondents. This technique should not have been used prior to the identification of the issues to be quantified, or as a substitute for such identification.

Not surprisingly, they were unable to convince the Board of the cause of falling enrolments and could not provide any convincing evidence to even suggest that they were on the right track. It was believed by this consultancy that the reason this research failed was that it assumed that the cause of falling enrolments was the disparity in perception between the Ideal school and the School. This assumption led to the use of a quantitative research tool despite the fact that the key issues causing falling enrolments had not been identified.

The methodology used

The following methodology was used to develop a strategy that would increase enrolments:

- Identify the cause of falling enrolments.

  • In light of past attempts by the School to solve the problem, and to some extent, having "muddied" the waters for unbiased research, it was resolved to run a series of focus groups that were facilitated by the consultant. The purpose of the focus groups was to identify the issues that may have contributed to falling enrolments and then to understand the scope, depth and seriousness of those issues.

  • Each focus group was homogeneous in its composition to better enable open and frank discussion in depth of issues relating to each group.

  • Some staff members were so threatened by the existing dysfunctional School culture that they refused to participate in open forum - even with assurances of total confidentiality. Accordingly, some focus groups were conducted at the private homes of staff (at the request of those staff), while other input was invited and received by phone and letter for those staff where even the private home environment was still considered too threatening.

The requested focus groups were:

- Parents who have enrolled their children but who had not yet commenced

- Parents of children in classes to year 2

- Parents of children in classes in years 5 and 6

- Parents of children in classes in years 7 and 8

- Parents of children in classes in years 11 and 12

- Students of years 11 and 12

- Parents of children removed from the school while in Junior school

- Parents of children removed from the school while in Senior school

- General community with children in the below year 4 level but who do not attend the college

- General community with children in the above year 9 level but who do not attend the college

- Teachers in the Junior School at the College

- Teachers in the Senior School of the College

- School administrators including headmasters/mistresses

- Suggest ways to eliminate the causes (ie. consider options to negate the effects of the causes)

- Review the performance of the present Principal and other senior staff and assess their capacity to implement the corrective action recommended and indicate any factors in favour of their retention or removal.

- Provide such other advice as may be considered necessary for the survival and or growth of the college.

The findings

The focus group process clearly identified that there was no single cause of falling enrolments. It found that the key issues contributing to falling enrolments were:

1. Fees for some parents were certainly an issue but this was a relatively minor issue.

2. Lack of facilities was an issue, but not the facilities that the Board had envisioned. The facilities that were identified as needed were those that were associated with the reasons why parents chose the school in the first place - namely those associated with academic pursuit (such as library, computers, laboratories, etc.) and not extra-curricular activities such as sporting facilities.

The parents chose the School knowing that it didn't have the sporting facilities of other schools. Parents commented that even though it would have been an advantage to have extensive sporting facilities, this was not a critical issue for them. In fact, many parents commented that had the School embarked on the development programme "promised" when their children commenced at the School, fees would have risen to the point where they would have been "priced out" of maintaining the children at the School. Parents saw the non-fulfilment of the capital development promises as prudent management, rather than a failing of the School.

3. The application of a uniform discipline policy was a surprisingly important issue. The playing of "favourites" or the lack of enforcement of existing rules and regulations was close to the heart for many parents.

4. Balance and continuity of core curriculum choices in the senior school (or the lack thereof) was a major cause for student departures.

5. Individual treatment for gifted and remedial students, a major plank of the School's culture and of their marketing efforts, was seen as not living up to promise.

6. The end of Grade 6 was seen as a natural "review stage" by most parents. What the child needed at junior school was not seen to relate intrinsically to the student's senior needs. Parents saw no continuity in theme or curriculum between junior and senior school. Therefore, they saw this stage as a logical break point to relocate their child with minimal disruption or relocation "pain".

The solution

The solutions recommended to the school were varied and encompassed every aspect of the school. These included:

1. Redefining the School's focus to one that enabled children to fulfil their potential in an environment that was striving for excellence.

Diagram 1

2. Change in Curriculum:

a. Establish a core focus for the School. The true essence of the school may be both academic and/or non-academic. This would represent the minimum educational product provided by the School, and enable capital and facility expansion programmes to be prioritised.

b. Establish a range of preferred activities - to be provided when demand and funds/facilities were available.

c. Other services to be provided only when demand permits but not at the expense of preferred activities.

Diagram 2

3. Establish transition program from Junior to Senior School - establish a Middle School

 

Diagram 3

Diagram 4

4. Establish multi-representative committees to develop policies and practices on:

a. Defining the school focus and curricula and extra activity levels; incorporating the objective of catering in a superior manner with the needs of those that excel or require help. Also to include a statement of the expectations of the school in relation to disciplinary standards considered appropriate.

b. Communication strategies to parents, community and other stakeholders.

c. Establishing a Junior/Senior transition program and mechanism to unite the school.

d. Utilising parents & friends to assist the school.

e. Establish mechanism for the resolution of complaints and/or dealing with new ideas.

f. To review teacher complaints regarding remunerations, workloads, extra duties, equipment, etc..

5. Establish scholarship programmes

6. Re-focus School administration

7. Establish a marketing/promotion program

8. Establish a bridge to the community

The Outcome

The school advises that all recommendations were adopted with the result that enrolments have commenced to grow again. Conflicts within the School have been largely addressed with conflict-resolution processes established. The culture has become more harmonious and self-supporting. Curriculum has developed a clear focus around core disciplines. Capital development programmes are now identified and prioritised around the core definition of the School.

Project Conclusion

The dilemma of falling enrolments is one experienced by many schools. Three key mistakes are often made by those looking for solutions to this and other issues:

  • assuming the answer;

  • assuming that the problem is uniquely educational in nature;

  • assuming that experience, tools and techniques available elsewhere cannot be applied effectively to the education environment;

  • assuming that if conflict exists, then it is the conflict that is the root cause of the problem.

2: Applying the Mediation Model

Definitions of mediation vary principally because there is no single mediation process or perception of it. Christopher Moore (p. 14) sees mediation as

...the intervention into a dispute or negotiation by an acceptable, impartial and neutral third party who has no authoritative decision-making power to assist disputing parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of issues in dispute.

There are a range of other definitions that could be quoted but most share some commonality on the basic thrust of mediation, but vary in nuance on some of the detail.

The NADRAC committee (1997) has adopted six criteria or "absolutes" which define a process as mediation:

  • Mediators have no authority to make decisions on content, only on process. (Authority)

  • Mediators do not make recommendations on outcome. (Recommendations)

  • Rules of evidence do not apply. (Evidence)

  • Decision-making rests with the Principals (or their representatives in special circumstances). (Decision Making)

  • A major objective is full and honest discussion of the issues, and principled negotiation. (Openness)

  • The mediator, whatever conclusions he or she may reach or have reached regarding the dispute, must avoid manifesting partiality. (Impartiality)

These six criteria are a reasonable template to be used to assess the applicability or otherwise for the use of mediation techniques in this case study.

There are four key disputes within this case study that might be considered as candidates for the use of the use of mediation process. Table 1 below depicts these.

Table 1: Key Disputes

 

Name of Conflict

Party 1

Party 2

The Dispute

1

Doctrine

Primary School Head

Board

The Board was of the view that the Head was teaching radical fundamentalism and that this was disenfranchising parents and was not in keeping with school philosophy.

2

Management

Administration Manager

Staff

The staff were offended and confronted by the manner and style of the administration manager.

3

Leadership

Principal

Staff

Staff believed that the Principal was ineffectual. Requests for initiatives and changes were stonewalled and parked indefinitely.

4

Consistency

Parents

School

Parents were angry that the school showed subjective interpretation to its disciplinary policy. Students whose parents were strong financial supporters of the school were alleged to receive favoured and less stringent treatment compared to parents providing less financial support.

Before an analysis of these four disputes is undertaken, it must be stated at the outset that mediation is not seen as appropriate, or even considered, to solve the fundamental problem underlying this consulting situation: namely to solve the problem of falling enrolments. Mediation is however, seen as a possible method by which some of the disputes involved in this context may have been dealt with.

1 Doctrine

1.1 Authority

The mediation process dictates that the mediator has no authority over content but only over process. This raises the question of the role of the consultant who has been retained to solve a particular problem: namely of falling enrolments. The Board of the school on their appointment of the consultant raised the issue of the doctrinal fundamentalism of the Primary School Head as a possible issue. In so doing, they have contributed to the "agenda" of investigation for the consultant.

The consultant, in order to win the contract, must convince the Board that he has both a process and, based on the background briefing, a reasonable grasp of the content to deliver a satisfactory outcome. Although the consultant would be flexible as to content (i.e. material contributors to the cause of falling enrolments), he would not begin the process devoid of views and attitudes to the content. His task is to assess all possible causes in order to identify the root cause/s.

The consultant also knows, as do all parties involved, that the consultant has the authority to make recommendations to the Board to remedy the situation should he so see fit. This is a powerful influence and not only bestows authority and partiality on the consultant/mediator, but also bestows on him attributes of the contracting party (the Board).

In the context of this case study, the consultant's role was not to mediate a satisfactory accommodation between the Primary School Head and the Board, but rather to determine whether the doctrinal fundamentalism of the Primary School Head contributed in any material way to falling enrolments. If it was so determined, then it was the role of the consultant to recommend a solution that in all probability would be sacking rather than a mediated solution.

However, had the school undertaken mediation with the Primary School Head on the basis of her Doctrinal teaching outside the scope of falling enrolments, then the mediation process would have been more attractive but still problematic.

In such a situation, it would have certainly been possible to mediate an accommodation between the two parties that would have seen a tempering of the doctrinal fervour. However, would that have been an appropriate solution? The Board was responsible to deliver to the owners of the school (a private for-profit organisation) a particular set of outcomes based on the definitions and mission set for the school. The Head of the Primary School was contravening those parameters. It is not reasonable that an organisation would compromise its raison d''tre for the fundamentalist principles of one of its staff. Either the staff member complies or she doesn't. If she doesn't, then the school, it could be argued, would be within its rights to recruit someone who does.

The use of mediation in this context might deliver an entirely inappropriate outcome: namely departure from the school's raison d''tre and a compromise to a person's strong beliefs.

1.2 Recommendations

Within the context of this case study, the consultant is contracted to "fix" the problem. In order to do that, he needs to put a recommended course of actions to the Board.

It would have been highly unlikely that the school's problem of falling enrolments could be "mediated" since enrolments are, by their character, externally focused. Had it been proven that the Doctrinal issue was the root cause of non-enrolments (versus student departures), then a mediated solution would not have solved the problem since the external market would not have understood the nuance of the mediated outcome since the Head of the Primary School would still have her position. In any case, due to the confidentiality requirements of mediation, it is unlikely that the mediated outcome could be promoted even if it were a solution to the problem.

The problem faced by the school required firm remedial recommendations, and as such fails to satisfy the Recommendation criteria of mediation.

1.3 Evidence

Although evidence in the legal sense was not required in this case, it was necessary for the consultant to satisfy himself that the allegations made against the Head of the Primary School were legitimate and warranted. Through such a process of validation, the consultant can determine whether the doctrinal issues contributed to falling enrolments.

In the strict legal sense, evidence was not required, but in a logical and investigative sense, evidence was very important. Those who made allegations against the Head were asked to support those allegations with examples or proof of some sort.

It was not appropriate in this context to accept people at their word as can be done in a conventional mediation context. The implications of acting without reasonable "proof" in this situation were serious. People's jobs, careers and futures were at stake when meant that the fundamental attributes of natural justice had to apply.

The school was suffering its dilemma largely because many people had their own subjective views about the cause/s of the falling enrolments. No one within the school environment had the ability or authority to rigorously assess and test those subjective assessments. The consultant's role, if nothing else, was to introduce a rigorous objective assessment process which was prefaced by either formal evidentiary process or informal proof based on likelihood and probability. In either case, it was evidence that was sought to establish a view of the issues in an unbiased and untarnished manner.

In the Doctrinal dispute, mediation does not satisfy the evidentiary criteria.

1.4 Decision Making

In the mediation process, decision making is meant to rest with the principals or their representatives. In this dispute, one party is clearly the Head of the Primary School. The other party is a little harder to determine.

On one hand the Principal would be seen as the other party for and on behalf of the school. However, the Principal was seen as ineffectual and lacked credibility before the Board. It is unlikely therefore, that the Principal would have been able to mediate an outcome that would have been acceptable to the Board.

Another criticism of the Principal in the position of Second Party is that the Principal at least in principle had the ability and authority to resolve this issue in the past. He was able to call on any measure that was ethical and legal to solve the dispute but failed to do so. How effective then, would the Principal be in negotiating an outcome?

The dilemma extends to any subordinate of the Principal, none of whom have the authority to agree outcomes without Board ratification.

It is unlikely that any member of the Board would take the role as Second Party since they too required the approval of the Board to agree an outcome. In any case, it is unlikely that any Board member would become involved in a mediation since they would see this problem as an issue to be resolved by management, i.e. the Principal and his staff.

This dispute would have real problems in determining the appropriate and effective party who would represent, and have authority to agree outcomes, for and on behalf of the school.

1.5 Openness

Notwithstanding issue raised above, there is no impediment to honesty and openness between parties once chosen. The dynamic that dictate or impact this dispute in terms of honesty and openness are not significantly different to other mediated disputes.

1.6 Impartiality

For reason mentioned earlier, within the context of falling enrolments, it is not possible that the consultant can be an impartial mediator of this dispute. The project is not one of compromise, but rather of "fixing the problem". Potential solutions may be totally unacceptable to one party (such as dismissal) while totally advantageous to the other party.

Impartiality is suitable when parties can "afford" or "need to" compromise in order to sustain a mutually tolerable relationship in the longer term. In this dispute, the continuation of the relationship is not an accepted given - at least not by the school. Their view was that if the Head conducts herself in a way that is dysfunctional to the school then there is no place for her at the school.

To some extent, the consultant's role is to find fault and cause for a fee. It could be argued that in such an environment impartiality is extinguished.

This dispute makes it difficult for the mediator to be impartial.

2 Management

2.1 Authority

In some respects, this dispute has some classical perspectives to it. The issues in this dispute revolve around the inappropriate management practices of a senior manager that has upset staff.

The content of the dispute is very much that defined by the staff and does not involve the subjectivity of the consultant/mediator. The consultant through the investigative procedure adopted for the project knew the issues in the dispute. Neither this dispute nor the issues under-pinning it were, in the opinion of the consultant, material to the principal task of solving the problem of falling enrolments.

To recommend for the mediation of the dispute in the context of the prime consulting brief was not supportable. However, to make such a recommendation to mediate in the context of enhancing the school in general was legitimate. The mediation would be undertaken as a peripheral or adjunct activity to the primary contract and not as part of it.

One of the difficulties in this particular dispute was in determining who would set the content agenda for staff. Although they had a range of grievances against the individual, they would need to meet to determine their mediation agenda. In the context of the school environment, this would be a difficult and intimidating task that might smack of vendetta rather than mediation.

The grievance also seemed very one sided in that staff had complaints against the individual while the individual had no apparent counter-claim. The content of the mediation would probably revolve around staff desiring the individual to change his managerial habits, while the individual would probably seek greater compliance with rules, regulations and policies of the school. On such a platform of issues, a successful mediation is possible.

2.2 Recommendations

A mediator would be able to refrain from the need to provide recommendations and allow the mediation process to fulfil its classic role.

2.3 Evidence

A classic mediation could be conducted in this dispute with evidence needed only in the context of issues and claims made by the parties to help clarify issues and claims rather than to prove them.

2.4 Decision Making

Decision making authority is slightly complicated in the case of the staff party. It is not practical, reasonable or fair that all staff would confront the manager in mediation. It is therefore more likely that someone would be selected to represent staff with the Staff log of issues and claims.

The issue is not the representation per se, but rather what happens after an agreement is signed. The selected staff nominee would probably have to agree to a level of compliance of rules, regulations and policies that may impact different staff in different ways. How might staff react if they are impacted in a way that makes their position untenable? If one staff member breeches the agreement, what is the status of the agreement for other staff, and what are the obligations on the manager who entered into the agreement? What is the status of new staff who are not party to the agreement?

These are all issues that jeopardise the effectiveness of the mediated outcomes. Where it is possible to identify these possibilities and contingencies, then the agreement is more workable. Where such contingencies are not or cannot be identified and process stipulated, then the agreement is destined to fail or be ineffective.

This dispute would satisfy the Decision making criteria with the qualifications noted above.

2.5 Openness

Strictly speaking, there is no reason why both parties to this dispute could not be open and honest in the mediation. However, the school's culture and environment was infused with personal dislikes, political agenda, politicking, distrust, poor morale, disempowerment and a range of other dysfunctional behaviours.

In such an environment it is unlikely that the parties would be open and honest about the issues since everyone had a "barrow to push". Such a framework might compromise the mediation process and its resultant agreement, and would almost certainly compromise the long-term viability of the agreement.

This does not mean that the mediation should not be attempted. But it does suggest that as part of any agreement, there needs to be a "protocol on process" which would enable both parties to satisfy themselves that the agreement is working, and a set of procedures that will handle issues that threaten the agreement.

2.6 Impartiality

It is possible for the mediator to retain impartiality provided the mediation is undertaken outside the principal consulting contract related to falling enrolments.

3 Leadership

3.1 Authority

This dispute allows the parties to set the content of the mediation much in the same way as for the Management dispute. Once again staff have a number of grievances directed at an individual, with the concerns and issues identified in the Management dispute applying equally here.

3.2 Recommendations

As with the Management dispute, the Leadership dispute was not seen as material in solving the falling enrolment problem. As such, there is no reason why the mediator would be unable to refrain from making or formulating recommendations, rather leaving the parties to determine their own solution.

3.3 Evidence

As with the Management dispute, formal evidence would not be required for a successful resolution.

3.4 Decision Making

Staff representation would be an issue in the same way as it was for the Management dispute but with an added element.

The Principal was the individual who could hire and fire staff and impact their tenure. As such, the choice of staff representative could be interpreted as a "career-limiting" role. Since the school's culture was vindictive and untrusting, concerns about the potential retaliation against the "front men" was very real.

Although both parties could/would be empowered to decide, it is highly likely that such decisions would be compromised by the power relationship between the parties augmented by the school's dysfunctional culture.

This mediation would be destined to fail because of the power imbalance that could only partially be offset by two or three or more staff representing staff.

A more appropriate method to solve this type of situation is for the consultant to broker a solution by identifying staff issues, recommending solutions and then refining the solution until it satisfied both parties. The discussions and negotiations would never take place with both parties simultaneously in the one room.

3.5 Openness

Although the parties should be open and honest, this dispute would be compromised by the organisation's dysfunctional culture in the same way that the Management dispute would be compromised.

3.6 Impartiality

Provided the mediation was undertaken outside the falling enrolment scenario, the mediator would be able to retain impartiality.

4 Consistency

4.1 Authority

The issue of inconsistent application of school rules was seen by the investigation as one of a number of "root causes" for falling enrolments.

The difficulty (one of a number) in a mediated response of this dispute however, revolves around who sets the content for a mediation and who will participate in it. Those parents who took their children out of the school due to inconsistent application of school rules have no vested interest in mediating anything since they no longer have a dispute or issue. They have no motivation to "improve" the school for someone else, and even if they did, this would not be a dispute but rather a problem solving session.

Parents who still had children at the school, did not consider the issue of inconsistent application of rules important enough since their children were still at the school. So who would represent the party of those for whom inconsistent application of rules was an issue? Probably no one.

That this inconsistent application of rules was an issue was real. It was just that it was not a dispute in the conventional sense. The issue needed to be tackled strategically and through managerial policy and planning, rather than through mediation.

4.2 Recommendations

Leaving aside the issues noted in 4.1 above, this issue was seen as one of a number of root causes of falling enrolments. As such, it would be impractical to expect a consultant/mediator to refrain from making any recommendation related to it - particularly since the solution of the problem was the consultant's brief.

In a hypothetical mediation context for this dispute, the consultant would need to ensure that the agreed outcomes were practical, realistic and satisfied the school's over-riding objectives. Leaving the parties to mediate an outcome might not satisfy the practical and realistic guidelines needed to be followed by the consultant. The need/temptation to "steer" the mediation would be overwhelming since failure to do so would compromise the consultant's deliverables to the client.

4.3 Evidence

Again assuming the hypothetical mediation of this dispute, no evidentiary issues are evident that would compromise the mediation process.

4.4 Decision Making

As outlined in 4.1 above, who are the principals associated with the parties? The school as "principal" seems clear, but determining the other party is not so clear.

Who will speak on behalf of the other party, and bind them to an outcome? Parents of departed student are not interested anymore, and yet they were the ones for whom this issue was sufficiently important for them to take their children from the school.

Parents of children who were considering the school and decided against enrolment because of this issue are almost impossible to identify, let alone obtain co-operation from. As with parents who had taken their children from the school, these parents have no motivation to help the school.

Existing parents of children do not regard this as an important issue. Who then represents the second party?

4.5 Openness

Assuming that existing parents were seen as the appropriate second party to the dispute (which they are not), then they might not wish to "rock the boat" in order to safeguard their children from possible victimisation or "special treatment".

Were parents aware of the dysfunctional nature of the school's culture then this would be a realistic concern.

4.6 Impartiality

For reasons similar to those noted in 4.2 above, it would be extremely difficult for a mediation to remain impartial in this dispute.

Conclusion

This paper has tried to take a real life case study and apply the mediation process to it. Table 2 summarises the conclusions drawn.

Table 2: Summary of Mediation Criteria

 

Doctrine

Management

Leadership

Consistency

Authority

Not suitable

Suitable

Suitable

Not suitable

Recommendations

Not suitable

Suitable

Suitable

Not suitable

Evidence

Not suitable

Suitable

Suitable

Suitable

Decision Making

Difficult to resolve

Suitable with qualification

Suitable in principle but low likelihood of workability

Not suitable

Openness

Suitable

Suitable with qualification

Suitable with qualification

Suitable with qualification

Impartiality

Difficult to sustain

Suitable

Suitable

Not Suitable

The Doctrine and Consistency disputes were seen as disputes that did not lend themselves to mediation in the case study context. The leadership dispute, although suitable to mediation in principle, had a low probability of success due to the low likelihood of workability of any mediated outcome.

The Management dispute lent itself well to the philosophy and process of mediation, notwithstanding the need to take care in determining the parties and in ensuring openness and honesty in participation.

Although the mediation could only have been applied in a limited way in this case, mediation as a tool is valuable for both individuals and management.

* * *

References

Moore, Christopher, (1986). The Mediation Process, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

NADRAC Committee, as quoted in course notes Mediation Course, Melbourne University, 1997

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