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Mediation Literature Review
The article Mediation. A Current Review and Theory Development by Wall, Stark and Stendifer reviews the literature about mediation published in the 1990s, which is classified into six topical groups. These groups include: mediations determinants, mediation itself, the possible approaches, the reasoning behind each choice of the approach used by mediators, mediations outcomes, and their determinants. Mediation has deep historical roots as the studies reveal its wide use for centuries for conflict resolution. Also, during the past decade, the amount of research concerning the study and practice of mediation has tremendously increased, and this provides motivation to analyze the mediation literature of the past. Mediation can be termed as assistance to the two or more parties by the third parties who have no mandate to impose the result. Being found among the oldest forms of conflict resolution, mediation is also used across the world to resolve conflicts (Wall, Stark, & Stendifer, 2001).
The authors of the analyzed article sought to organize the past literature concisely and reasonably. Usually, the origin of mediation is the dispute between two or more parties whose relationship could be improved through a mediators intervention. The disputants often choose a third party or a mediator, and it is usually the mediators choice whether to mediate or not. The mediators selection of the utilized approaches is often dependent on some factors, such as the nature of the conflict, the mediators training, and the environment. Once the mediation approaches have been applied, they are anticipated to yield a neutral outcome for the disputing parties. This is usually influenced by the intensity of the dispute, the type of the issue being resolved, and the power of the disputing parties. Therefore, the authors of the article review the topics mentioned earlier through contrasts, references to the credible sources, and theoretical underpinnings (Moore, 2014).
The article commences with examining the determinants of mediation. According to the past publications, two processes must be present for the mediation to occur. These processes include the agreement of a third party to mediate and the fact that the disputing parties have to make such request. The analyzed literature further indicates that there are two factors, the expected benefits and norms, which shape the two determinants of mediation. The norms are usually entrenched in the culture which serves as a strong motivational drive for the disputants, especially in China and other Asian countries. Even though some of the determinants of mediation do not require rigorous academic scrutiny, the authors ensured that they have fully analyzed the two determinants that they term as being of logical relevance to the success of mediation. Nevertheless, it can be noted that the authors fail to adequately address all the determinants of mediation which also include the mediators tact, tenacity, and intelligence that may influence the outcome of mediation (Wall et al., 2001).
The second segment focuses on mediation itself. Types of mediation vary from the community and marital to labor management and international mediation among several others. Also, with the various types of mediation come the different techniques and structures. In this sense, more complexities may be found in international mediation unlike the other types of mediation since more parties tend to be involved. There have been several attempts by the scholars to capture the range of mediation experience, and particularly the desired characteristics of an ideal mediator. The past literature, as well as the theoretical review by the analyzed authors, fails to rigorously address the types of mediation that exist in the modern-day world (Stipanowich & Lamare, 2013).
The third topical area entails the approaches being employed by mediators. The past literature is mainly descriptive as it reveals that various techniques used by mediators are exerted against the conflicting parties themselves, their relationships with one another and the non-involved parties. The approaches utilized by the mediators are solely dependent on their discretion based on the conflict at hand. Additionally, another area covered by the past literature is the determinants of mediators approaches and techniques. Given the wide range of approaches available to the mediators, their choice is usually governed by the environmental factors, the mediators and the disputants effects (Nolan-Haley, 2012). At this point, the literature is rather vague regarding the factors that determine the mediators choice of approach to be used. The review fails to adequately identify and discuss all the factors that lead to the choice of a particular technique while resolving a conflict through mediation.
The authors further outline the mediation outcomes as the fifth topic area of the discussion. The reviewed literature indicates that the mediations outcomes come from two sources that include the aggregate mediation process and the personal techniques used by the mediator. The former is further divided into three groups the first being the disputants outcome, which is the resolution of the conflict. The second is the mediators outcome which entails their satisfaction after a successful settlement of the dispute. The last one is the third parties outcome that benefit from the mediation process. Nevertheless, the article is also to a certain extent vague about the influence of contextual variables on the mediation outcomes.
The final topic is the determinants of the outcome. In the past decades, scholars were concentrated mainly on factors that undermine the mediations effect in general, while ignoring the specific effects on the parties involved. Here, the scholars agreed that the availability of resources, the commitment of the disputants to the mediation, and the level of conflict were the mitigating factors (Sternlight, Alfini, Press, & Stulberg, 2006).
The most important contribution of this review to the study of mediation is that it shows that the past literature is still relevant to the modern-day conflict resolution. Also, the review shows that successful mediation outcomes are more probable when the mediators are capable of employing various approaches and techniques available to ensure a successful outcome of the mediation. Additionally, this data is significant in todays context and it can provide important contextualization to the recent failed efforts at curbing and ending the international conflicts. This literature identifies the potential explanatory variables that should be regarded as provisional. In this sense, reviewing the past literature enables the mediators to learn and implement the mediation approaches, and it also offers an opportunity for future research in the field of mediation.
The following questions can be raised regarding the article:
Does it really matter what the mediators do as long as they are highly motivated and strive to fine-tune the disputants relationships?
What techniques should be used by the mediators?
How can the mediation process be improved if there is still uncertainty about the effectiveness of the techniques used?
How can modern-day conflicts be handled using the past mediation techniques?
What areas should be included in the future research of the mediation process?