This intervention may damper the feedback spiral" (2005, p18)
Dean G. Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim's theory suggests that at the moment of problem solving "the parties or their representatives talk freely to one another. They exchange information about their interests and priorities, work together to identify the true issues dividing them, brainstorm in search of alternatives that bridge their opposing interests, and collectively evaluate these alternatives from the viewpoint of their mutual welfare."(1986, p. 139) This approach is similar to what Fisher advocates as problem solving and it can be an efficient path for communication. In this sense, it is important to separate people from the problems, and react to the actual issues that place the parties on the same spectrum of analysis before tackling the sensitive issues which raised the conflict. Terrence Hopmann considers that there are two solutions that could be effective for the resolution of a conflict . On the one hand there is the bargaining one which supports the idea of concessions from both parties, searching for new solutions that would cater for the needs of both actors involved. The second one, which is in accordance with Pruitt and Kim is problem solving, also advocated by Fisher. In this case, the solution is not found in the ones stated by the two parties at the beginning of the conflict, but rather a new one which can be mutually benefitting and leaving no impression that either side gave in on their needs, interests, or identities.
This is an important aspect because it has to be taken into account, as Fisher suggests in his book, that whether the conflict takes place in the political world or not, the ones trying to resolve the conflict from the two sides have groups or individuals they have to be accountable to. Therefore, problem solving can be a useful tool for managing to present and support each side's interests and still reach a mutually accepted agreement.
Third party intervention is yet another issue to be taken into account, as well as the moment in which this party intervenes. In this sense, Rambotham, Woodhouse, and Miall suggest simply that third parties can mediate, arbitrate, or negotiate (2005, p19). Moreover,...
In any situation the defining element is their power to intervene, whether the third parties are "powerless" such as the mediators, or "powerful" such as those third parties that intervene in order to impose their own resolution to the conflict. Still, the moment in which they intervene is usually after the full escalation of the conflict.
On the other hand, Dean G. Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim point out in more detail the way in which third parties can intervene and the way in which individuals can either guide the conflicting parties to reach an agreement, to identify common ground and interests, to suggest solutions. However, their approach tends to be limited to the behavior of the individuals as opposed to Rambotham, Woodhouse, and Miall's approach which suggests a more systemic view on the issue of conflict resolution. Ronald Fisher suggests a combined approach in the sense that for the first stages of the conflict consultation is more suitable for preventing the full escalation of the conflict (1991). However, after the full escalation of the conflict a more effective approach is that which includes mediation within a more powerful stand. Therefore, at this point it can be argued that the two stands, that of Dean G. Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim and Rambotham, Woodhouse, and Miall are each in its part justified and accounted for by other scholars. However, apparently a combined approach can be seen as even more effective because it can be tailored according to the actual stages of escalation and de escalation of the conflict.
Overall, it can be concluded that, seeing the relatively different approaches on the matter of conflict resolution, more research should be done to take into account the different challenges facing the conflict paradigm today as well as the new international challenges which transform each conflict into a new and unexpected experience the international community must face.
Fisher, R.J. And Loraleigh Keashly. (1991). The Potential Complementarity of Mediation and Consultation within a Contingency Model of Third Party Consultation. Journal of Peace Research 28:1.
Hopmann, T. (2001) Bargaining and Problem Solving: Two Perspectives on International Negotiations, in Chester Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall, eds., Turbulent Peace: The Challenges of Managing International Conflict. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Miall, H., O. Ramsbotham, and Tom Woodhouse. (2005). Contemporary Conflict Resolution Oxford: Polity Press.
Pruitt, D.G. And Sung Hee Kim (1986). Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement.…
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