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Book Chapter

Publication Date



The Complex Dispute Resolution series collects essays on the development of foundational dispute resolution theory and practice and its application to increasingly more complex settings of conflicts in the world, including multi-party and multi-issue decision making, negotiations in political policy formation and governance, and international conflict resolution. Each volume contains an original introduction by the editor, which explores the key issues in the field. All three volumes feature essays which span an interdisciplinary range of fields, law, political science, game theory, decision science, economics, social and cognitive psychology, sociology and anthropology and consider issues in the uses of informal and private processes, as well as more formal and public processes. The essays question whether the development of universal theoretical insights about conflict resolution is possible with variable numbers of parties and issues and in multi-cultural and multi-jural settings. Each volume also presents a coda, summarizing key issues in the field and suggesting further avenues for research.

The second volume (and the introductory essay here) applies the theoretical foundations and practices of primary processes in dispute resolution–negotiation, mediation, arbitration and some hybrid processes in both public and private, informal and formal settings to more complex multi-party and multi issue settings, and asks whether foundational theories must be altered when there are more parties and issues. What difference do larger numbers make in theory and practice of dispute resolution and decision making? Other theoretical and empirical observations of the role of third party neutrals and facilitators in multi-party settings are explored, and applied disciplines such as game theory and decision sciences are applied to complex dispute resolution settings. Illustrations of uses of these processes in different substantive areas, e.g. legal disputes, public policy decision making, politics and governance, environmental matters, institutional relations, and high conflict settings are provided. The volume collects classic articles in multi-party, multi-issue theory and practice while interrogating the issues of how the numbers of parties and issues, different contexts and cultures challenges our efforts to create generalizable theory and practice of human conflict resolution. The review essay also discusses recent efforts to seek correspondences and learning from application of conflict resolution theory and practice to the work on deliberative democracy and political decision making. The coda suggests avenues for future research. Some attention is paid to issues of ethics and political theory, as well as evaluation of efficacy, in the use of third party facilitators in public policy and governance disputes.

Publication Citation

Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Introduction & Coda, in COMPLEX DISPUTE RESOLUTION: VOLUME II: MULTI-PARTY DISPUTE RESOLUTION, DEMOCRACY AND DECISION MAKING (Carrie Menkel-Meadow, ed., Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate 2012)