ODR and Trust

This chapter is from “Online Dispute Resolution Theory and Practice,” Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsh & Daniel Rainey ( Eds.), published, sold and distributed by Eleven International Publishing. The Hague, Netherlands at: www.elevenpub.com.

The existence of trust between individuals makes conflict resolution easier and more effective. This point is obvious to anybody who has been in a conflict. A party who trusts another is likely to believe the other’s words, assume that the other will act out of good intentions, and probably look for productive ways to resolve a conflict… The level of trust or distrust in a relationship therefore definitively shapes emergent conflict dynamics.

Trust is on the rise. Perhaps not in practice, but certainly as an area of interest and research. This is clear to anyone tracking the dispute resolution and conflict management fields, and is particularly noticeable in the field of ODR, in which trust has always received special attention.

However, what do people mean when they talk about trust? Zooming in on specific uses of the term, it would seem as if three types of trust are most often discussed:

Conclusion:

Trust, that infinitely valuable resource for the purposes of negotiation and dispute resolution, is hard enough to come by under the best of circumstances. Online, for a variety of reasons ranging from technological to psychological, trust is extremely challenging to develop and to maintain. However, awareness and intentional use of online communication media by negotiators and mediators can not only help overcome these challenges, they can provide new methods for trust building unavailable in face-to-face processes.

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Noam Ebner

Noam Ebner is a professor of negotiation and conflict resolution at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, which has offered an online MS in Negotiation & Conflict Resolution since 2008. Formerly chair of Creighton’s online degree program, Noam spearheaded its curricular and pedagogical development, teacher training and support, and online… MORE >

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