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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Mediators Understand Conflict: A Phenomenological Study
by Gilmore, Janetta K., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2018, 125; 10752119
Abstract (Summary)

This phenomenological study examined the lived experience of 13 active mediators who conduct mediations between individuals of differing collectives (race, gender, age, religion, etc.). These mediators were volunteers, human resource professionals, or other external professionals utilized to assist in resolving workplace conflicts. They offered experience in corporate environments, state and federal government, school systems, and the community.

Study participants met the following criteria: (1) successfully completed the 40-hour mediation training; (2) conducted a minimum of 30 mediations over the past five years; (3) conducted a minimum of 10 diversity related mediations; and (4) experience with workplace conflicts.

As a phenomenological study, interviews were the method of data gathering. Following Merriam and Tisdale’s (2016) interview structure continuum, data gathering occurred in two stages: highly structured/standardized and unstructured/informal. The first stage assessed the mediator’s appropriateness for the study. The questions focused on the mediator’s recent experience with conducting workplace and EEO mediations. The second stage was the detailed interview used to build an understanding of the lived experiences. Questions asked led to the understanding of the lived experiences of the mediators thereby supporting the research question.

Five conclusions emerged from the results of this study. (1) Communication that is poor or lacking is a major source of conflict. (2) Environmental changes have increased workplace diversity leading to more conflict. (3) Perceptions of fairness by authority and senior staff leading to conflict. (4) Parties who volunteer for mediation are more successful. (5) Mediators and the mediation process are not completely neutral.

Implications for theory are: the strengthening of the social identity literature by specifically identifying sources of conflict; expansion of the literature that explains the role management plays in conflict escalations; introduces a hybrid mediation style; and the expansion of trait theory literature by identifying which traits are prone to conflict. Recommendations for practice are workplace initiatives focusing on diversity and interpersonal skills; incremental training for mediators to ensure mediators practice in the spirit of neutrality; encouraging organizations to implement mediations for all conflicts prior to escalation of workplace chaos; and emphasizing the minimization of legal advice by licensed attorneys during mediations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marquardt, Michael J.
Commitee: Chalofsky, Neal E., Rosenthal, Jonathan S.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human and Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural Resources Management, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Collective conflict, Dispute resolution, Diversity mediation, Mediation, Personality conflict, Workplace dispute
Publication Number: 10752119
ISBN: 978-0-355-81774-4
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