Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - IDR (Internal Dispute Resolution: Developing a New Framework for the Role of Conflict Prevention and Resolution Systems within Organizations)

The research project is a study of an essentially un-researched field, internal dispute resolution (IDR), which brings together the law and the interdisciplinary field of alternative dispute resolution. The research findings serve to develop a theoretical framework for the study and design of the emerging phenomenon of IDR. IDR mechanisms are systems for addressing disputes that exist within organisations and institutions (e.g., an ombudsman, a mediation unit) for the resolution of complaints among employees, between employees and management, and, in certain cases, between an agency or company and its patrons.

IDR emerged in the U.S., mainly as a result of legal requirements for the institution of informal avenues for addressing workplace discrimination complaints. Its use has since expanded to other types of disputes and the mission of such internal units now sometimes covers organizational improvement and learning. While supporters of IDR have emphasised the satisfaction of individual complainants and cost effectiveness for the organization through IDR, critics have focused on the increased privatization of dispute resolution services with the funnelling of complaints from the formal legal system to private bodies that function simultaneously as employees of the host-organisation and as neutrals.

This research has sought to mitigate the dichotomous debate that has surrounded the IDR phenomenon and offers insights regarding the conditions under which IDR can be effective and fair. Specifically, the research explores the conditions under which IDR mechanisms can function in a preventative capacity, not only allowing for effective ex-post resolution of individual complaints, but also preventing future disputes from arising. This premise was explored through the development of a theoretical framework for the delivery of ADR and IDR services in the context of employment disputes and through the empirical examination of disputes and avenues for their resolution in the healthcare setting in Israel.

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