Resolving conflict: Tactics of federal mediators

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This research examines the mediation process in the labor relations context to identify the determinants of mediators' tactics. First, data collected from secondary sources, informal networking with dispute resolution professionals, participant observation of new mediator training sessions, and qualitative interviews with Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) mediators were used to develop a written survey. Next, the survey was distributed to practicing mediators with the FMCS. In brief, this research compares the assumptions underlying the FMCS' training curriculum with practitioner sentiments concerning good mediator practice. Six hypotheses were developed from the preliminary analysis. These hypotheses were tested using linear regression. Four statistically significant relationships were found. Three hypotheses were confirmed. Survey results indicated that mediator tactics tend to cluster into two groups, "the broad approach" and "the narrow approach." The survey data suggest that the broad and narrow approaches to mediation are complements to each other rather than substitutes for one another. Therefore, I summed the "broad approach" and "narrow approach" scales to create one measure of mediator tactics, which I named "the bifocal approach." The following predictors of the bifocal approach were found to be statistically significant: bargaining context, mediator acceptability, bargaining chips, and unionization rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-68
Number of pages28
JournalAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial relations
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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