In a recent article of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Ebner and Getz write about ODR and its potential as a carbon-saving process. They raise interesting points in a field that has not yet been fully vetted or implemented in ADR policies.
What is ODR?
ODR stands for Online Dispute Resolution. It is a form of dispute resolution that occurs digitally and where parties are not in the same room or perhaps even the same country. Rather, technology is making it possible for parties to resolve their conflict. Parties can communicate through use of e-mail, teleconferencing or chat. With ODR, there is the possibility for a third, neutral, party to moderate the communication and help parties towards conflict resolution.
Key advantages of ODR that Ebner and Getz identify in their article are: increased flexibility, greater accessibility and reduced costs. Because parties are not physical in the same room, there will be far less costs involved then with regular ADR. Think about rent of office space or travel costs. Also, the ODR process can be done within the comforts of parties’ homes. This grants more flexibility in the duration and frequency of online dispute resolution meetings. Greater accessibility is granted because a potential mediator does not have to live in the same region or country as the parties, making ODR more accessible and flexible then other form of conflict resolution. This can make it possible to have a potential mediator match the culture of the conflict at hand.
Read more about culture and conflict
Recommendations for further use
This might all sounds very promising but a given fact is that ODR is in its infancy. Ebner and Getz give some recommendations to make online dispute resolution more accepted. They state that practitioners of ODR can learn from how webconferencing companies have entered the market. Also, there might be the potential for a synergetic partnership. A second recommendation given is the e-commerce market. Given that communication within e-commerce is already digital, offering an online dispute resolution process here seems like a very logical step. Time will only tell if this type of dispute resolution will be viewed as a viable alternative.