Date Published: Dec 31, 1984
Journal of Occupational Behavior
Lewicki, R. J., & Sheppard, B. H.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of three situational variables—time pressure to resolve the dispute, expectation of future relations between disputants and range of impact of the settlement on future conflicts—on a third party's style of managing a dispute. These variables were systematically manipulated in two different case scenarios and presented to respondents in questionnaire form. It was hypothesized that these variables would differentially affect the parties' willingness to exert control over the outcome of the conflict and the process by which the parties attempted to achieve resolution. The predisposition of the respondents to adopt one of four specific third party styles (adversarial intervention, inequisitorial intervention, mediation and providing impetus) was also measured, to determine both overall preference for each style and preference as a function of the independent variables. The results demonstrate that respondents were significantly more likely to employ outcome control strategies when they were under time pressure, when the disputants would not be likely to work together in the future, and when the settlement would have broad impact on the resolution of other disputes. Differences for the two case scenarios were also noted. The disposition to use process control was stronger when the third party did not expect the disputants to interact in the future; the results for time pressure were less clear. Finally, expressed preferences for particular third party styles were consistent with the main effects noted for outcome control, and ambiguous with regard to the effects for process control. Respondents said that they clearly preferred mediation as a third party style, but it is not clear that the parties truly understood mediation versus other forms of dispute management. Implications are drawn for further examination of those factors which predispose managers to use outcome or process control in dispute intervention.  (Abstract from author)