Mediator settlement strategies

Susan S. Silbey, Sally E. Merry

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Settling cases poses a challenging task for the mediator. Most disputes are hotly contested hy both parties or (hey would not have progressed to the point of entering the court arena or mediation. Yet, despite differences in the nature of their cases, the organization of each program we have studied, and (he style of mediation predominating in each, striking similarities exist in the techniques used hy the mediators to settle cases. Observation of over 10 different mediators in 175 mediation sessions in three programs suggests that in order to do the job which (hey are charged with accomplishing-bringing mediation cases to settlement- mediators develop a repertoire of strategies employing a variety of sources of power. Mediator strategies fall into four principal categories: presentation of self and the program, control of the process of mediation, control of the substantive issues in mediation, and activation of commitments and norms. Mediators empower themselves by claiming authority for themselves, their task, or the program based upon values external to the immediate situation, or manipulate the immediate situation so that settlement is more rather than less likely. Based upon their differential use of these strategies, mediator styles fall along a continuum between two types: bargaining and therapy. Mediation seems to range between a bargaining process conducted in the shadow of the court to a communication process which resembles therapy in its focus upon exploring and enunciating feelings.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationMediation
    Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Policy and Practice
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315204826
    ISBN (Print)9781138634855
    StatePublished - May 8 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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