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A Fortune 500 company hires specialists to deal with disputes between employees and customers. The State Department's Center for the Study of Foreign Affairs holds a number of symposia and workshops that bring together diplomats who have been active in recent international negotiations and academicians who have studied these negotiations in an attempt to formulate techniques that can be taught to American foreign service officers…
Environmentalists and executives of a company accused of polluting a stream meet to resolve their differences at a university-run mediation center in the Southeast. All of these examples are part of a new way of dealing with conflict.
These new approaches to conflict are usually referred to by the general term "conflict resolution." Something whose roots can be traced to four (sometimes separate, sometimes intertwining) movements, all of which began in the mid-1960s and early 1970s: (1) new developments in organizational relations; (2) the introduction of the "problem-solving workshop" in international relations; (3) a redirection of religious figures from activist work in peace-related endeavors to an emphasis upon "peacemaking"; and (4) the criticism of lawyers and the court system by the general public that resulted in what is known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
These four movements, which comprise the major divisions in the new field of conflict resolution, are all part of a more encompassing phenomenon in recent American history--the realization that the bureaucratization of the modern world has resulted in extreme depersonalization. ...
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