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Workplace mediation : Searching for underlying motives and interests


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Kals, Elisabeth ; Thiel, Kathrin ; Freund, Susanne:
Workplace mediation : Searching for underlying motives and interests.
In: Bollen, Katalien ; Euwema, Martin ; Munduate, Lourdes (Hrsg.): Advancing workplace mediation through integration of theory and practice. - New York : Springer, 2016. - S. 39-53. - (Industrial relations and conflict management ; 3)
ISBN 978-3-319-42841-3


The collision of self-interests is often regarded as the “prototype” of social conflicts. However, there is overwhelming empirical evidence fostering the view of a pluralistic motive structure underlying social conflicts. One conception of man which takes into account the pluralism of motives is the one based on humanistic psychology. It supports the conception of active man, who is oriented towards reaching his aims and searching for higher meaning. Since being able to reflect, he is therefore responsible for his own acts, cognitions, and even feelings. Applying this conception of man in the field of workplace mediation, it is the conflict partners that have to take responsibility for the understanding and solving of their conflict.
It is argued that this process should be mediated on the basis of analyzing the underlying structure of conflict. Following the metaphor of the iceberg, the visible subject of the conflict only represents the tip of the iceberg, whereas the deep structure of the conflict is formed by unfulfilled motives and whishes, by experienced injustices etc., that are lying hidden beneath the surface.
Often, appraisals of injustice and accompanying emotions lay at the submerged base of the iceberg. In looking at the hidden conflict structure, perceived injustice and accompanying emotions is assigned a prominent role. That is why social conflicts oftentimes can be seen as justice conflicts. This is also the case in the illustrating example in the following chapter which is supported by exemplifying data. It is important to notice, that in uncovering the underlying conflict structure, justice has to be understood in pluralistic dimensions: Distributive, procedural, as well as interactional justice matter. Many justice principles can and should be applied in the process of mediation, leading to competing solutions, each subjectively judged as just. It is one aim within the psychological core part of the mediation process, to enhance the conflict parties’ understanding of the competing structure of the conflict. Moreover, based on this understanding of the mediation process, a consensus solution regarded as fair has to be found.
At first glance, such a mediation approach might be rejected as too intense concerning time and effort. This might well be especially the case in the area of workplace conflicts. However, at second glance, it implies many advantages, such as the sustainability of the solution found, the gathering of knowledge about oneself, the acquisition of new competences and wisdom – which will also be the case even if the mediation might fail. Furthermore, it reduces financial costs for the employers and can even contribute to establish a new conflict culture in the organization in the long run – to name just a few. Therefore, the idea is supported to further investigate the effectiveness and efficacy of this approach by means of cooperative research of scientists and practicing mediators.

Weitere Angaben

Publikationsform:Aufsatz in einem Buch
Schlagwörter:Workplace; conflict; Mediation; self-interest; responsibility; justice;
Institutionen der Universität:Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät > Psychologie > Psychologie III - Professur für Sozial- und Organisationspsychologie
Begutachteter Aufsatz:Ja
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 07. Dez 2016 15:24
Letzte Änderung: 07. Dez 2016 15:24
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