Oxford Handbooks Online Explains Role of the Organizational Ombudsman

The academic press has published an online chapter written by Mary Rowe and Howard Gadlin. Rowe is the MIT Ombudsperson and Gadlin is the Ombudsman and Director of the Center for Cooperative Resolution at the National Institutes of Health. 


This chapter discusses the OO (organizational ombudsman) in the context of organizational conflict management systems (CMS). The OO is a confidential, neutral, internal resource-formally independent of line and staff management-working informally, without decision-making power. OOs work with all employees and managers, and every workplace issue, as a "zero barrier" office. OOs seek fair processes for concerns brought to them. OOs refer to all formal and informal CMS options, identify "new" issues, and recommend systems improvements. The chapter discusses the emergence of the role in the context of social, political, and cultural changes over the past 50 years, especially in North America. It discusses the alternative dispute resolution movement-and concurrent emergence of the OO as an appropriate dispute resolution role within a CMS. It describes the functions-and competencies required-of ombudsmen, and discusses current challenges faced by those in OO roles.

The full article is available by subscription only.  (Oxford Handbooks Online.) 

Related Ombuds Blog posts about Mary Rowe; Howard Gadlin.

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