To start our discussion:
We, along with several other forums on different topics, are invited to engage in a shared analysis of a single case. We hope that this will make for a stimulating interdisciplinary, multi-foci analysis.
Later in the week we will be introducing further questions about our forum topic that are not related to the case.
Please review the following case and then jump into the discussion!
After having read the case, here are a couple of questions to get us started:
*What cultural factors do you think might have influenced the development of the dispute(s) and that might impact the parties as they attempt to address the dispute(s) through the use of technology?
How might differences in values and context have impacted the dispute(s) and disputants that they will bring with them "to the virtual table?"
Leah is on the faculty in Legal Studies in the Political Science Department at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, USA and is Co-Director of the (USA) National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution. Her research and teaching focuses on issues of power and identity and their effect on disputing on and offline. Leah has served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Association of Conflict Resolution (2002-2008) and as a member of the editorial board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly since 2002.
Some of her recent publications include:
Wing, L. Mediation and Inequality Reconsidered: Bringing the Discussion to the Table. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol. 26, 383-404, 2009.
Wing, L. Whither Neutrality? Mediation in the Twenty-First Century. In Trujillo, M.A., Bowland, S.Y., Myers, L. J., Richards, P.M., and Roy, B.(eds.), Re-Centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008, 93-107.
Katsh, E. and Wing, L. Online Dispute Resolution in the Last Decade and the Future. Toledo Law Review, Vol. 38, 101-126, 2006.
Vance is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Psychology Program at Green Mountain College. He received his BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Master’s degrees in Community Counseling and Social Psychology from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University.
Vance’s teaching and research interests focus on ways that people interact with the social environment around them. Specifically, Vance is interested in examining ways that negative attitudes, stereotypes, and systems of privilege affect traditionally marginalized populations. In addition, he is interested in examining how gender stereotypes influence the workplace. Vance teaches numerous courses that explore ways that culture influences our daily lives. In his spare time,Vance enjoys spending quality time with his wife and dog. He also enjoys hiking, playing guitar, reading, and playing soccer.
Refereed Journal Articles
Jackson, Z.V., Wright, S.L., & Perrone, K.M. (In Press). Work-family Interface for Menin Nontraditional Careers. Journal of Employment Counseling.
Perfectionism, achievement of potential, and attributions of success among gifted adults. Advanced Development: A Journal on Adult Giftedness.
Gender differences in self perceptions of giftedness among adults in a longitudinal study of academically talented high school graduates. Roeper
Review, 29, 259-264.
Jeff makes a valid point about the use of ODR and "keeping emotions in check." While I agree with this, and with the importance of remaining civil and professional during a dispute resolution...call me old fashioned but the loss of ability to convey emotions, especially through body language, seems to be one of the biggest faults of ODR. Communication through body language is a very important part of dispute resolutions (online and offline). I agree with Vance that we definitely do rely on body language to convey our points across, and while it might seem more professional to solve a dispute with the absence of this...it is not a realistic approach. The loss of the face-to-face connection is definitely negative. For example, (to keep it very simple), saying "I'm sorry." in text online vs, saying "I'm sorry" in person usually with a face of regret and body language that conveys apology. The second holds MUCH more meaning...and it is unfortunate that this meaning is usually lost through ODR.
I agree with what people have already said about the limitations of ODR. The inability to incorporate body language is a significant drawback considering a great deal of body language is unconscious and could actually prove to be an important aspect of a dispute resolution process. Additionally, as Catherine pointed out, body language can convey emotion, and it isn't realistic to have a dispute resolution without an involvement of emotion. I feel that emotion in a non face-to-face scenario would most likely be expressed by an increase in tension and temper (and vocal volume?). Also, besides the ODR limitation on body language, the understanding and interpretation of what is being said can be limited because of cultural differences, language barriers, etc., as well as the absence of subtle and nuanced communication. And, of course, as Leah mentioned, what is not being communicated can be compelling.
While I definitely agree that these are among the drawbacks to ODR, I think it is important to appreciate some positive aspects of ODR. As long as those parties who are involved have access to and understanding of the technology, it can be quite beneficial. Technology can act as an equalizer between otherwise unequal parties. There is an increase to the convenience and speediness of a dispute resolution when using ODR, especially when dealing with an international dispute.
I personally feel that face-to-face communication, especially during a dispute or the resolution of a dispute, is much better than any other kind of communication. It creates a sense of connection between the participants that can foster and further the desire to resolve the dispute fairly and satisfactorily to all.