From Interpersonal to Large-Group Mediation – Differences, Added Dimensions?

by
Edward Howden

Number of interests and issues often greater

More persons interacting, both within each contending group and between the groups – so more variables, greater complexity of process

Decision-making more cumbersome and problematic, intra-party and inter-party

Cross-cultural tensions, misunderstandings add complexities, may roughen road to consensus – mediators’ sensitivities imperative

Multi-party disputes place still greater demands on the process

Difficult for some parties to move away from accustomed arenas of public battling, pressure tactics, media exploitation, etc. and into the quieter, non-public mediation chamber

In some cases mediators may need to take into account serious power imbalances between the parties

Assuring continuing compliance with an agreement may be more difficult

More demanding on mediators in terms of

a) overall time demands

b) complexities of schedule-setting, to accommodate everyone (often evenings or weekends)

c) mediators' energies, stamina, patience, creativity

Added commitment of agency staff, along with volunteers, may become essential

Greater mediator responsibility to try to attend to representation of all key interest groups or stakeholders


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