The purpose of this unit is to familiarize you with third-party intervention. In this unit, we will explore when intervention is (and is not) appropriate before, during, and after conflict

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Unit 9 Overview

Third-Party Intervention

The purpose of this unit is to familiarize you with third-party intervention. In this unit, we will explore when intervention is (and is not) appropriate before, during, and after conflict. We will also learn that assessing needs, negotiating a role, assessing conflict, and designing the intervention are important to a successful intervention strategy. Finally, we will learn to distinguish between formal and informal intervention with the focus on adjudication, arbitration, mediation, and consultation.


Unit Outcomes

  • Describe situations that call for third-party intervention

  • Differentiate between formal and informal intervention

  • Describe the nature and function of mediation in conflict resolution

Course Outcomes practiced in this Unit:

CM310-1: Analyze a conflict situation

CM310-2: Apply specific tools to conflict situations

GEL-8.1: Apply critical thinking to construct persuasive arguments

What do you have to do in this unit?

  • Reading
    Complete the readings

  • Discussion
    Participate in discussion

  • Seminar
    Attend the live seminar or complete option 2

  • Final Project
    Complete the Final Project


Reading Introduction:

The unit 9 reading focuses on use of third-party intervention in resolving conflict. Although some mediators want only agreement, others strive for transformation of the conflict parties. Regardless of the desired outcome, however, mediation processes and skills vary depending on the particular stage of mediation, beginning with softer skills such as listening and ending with setting rules so the parties can keep their agreements. There are profound differences in third-party intervention across cultures; Eastern cultures, for example, often use extended networks of people to help parties keep agreements, whereas Western cultures generally do not. Helpers can focus attention on the proactive design of dispute systems to handle conflicts as they arise.

Chapter 9 Third Party Intervention in Interpersonal Conflict

In this chapter, Bill Wilmot and Joyce Hocker discuss the importance of third-party intervention. They begin the chapter by explaining why we may want to use third- party intervention in some cases. They also distinguish between several alternatives to litigation, including adjudication, arbitration, and mediation. Finally, they also explore several methods for designing effective third-party interventions.

As you read this chapter, consider the success or failure of conflicts that have been resolved by third party intervention.

"Five Ways to Keep Disputes Out of Court",in HBR pages 163-188

In this chapter, John Allison discusses several ways to keep disputes out of the legal system, which may be costly for all parties in a conflict. He suggests that more persons have realized that alternative dispute resolution is a creative alternative to litigation. He also explains several means by which parties in a conflict can select the most appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution, given their specific situation.

As you read this chapter, think about situations in which alternative dispute resolution might have been a less costly and less time-consuming means to settle a conflict

View the Presentation on Third-Party Intervention

View the presentation on Third-Party Intervention

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Key Terms

Bottom of Form

Adjudication is a process in which parties go before a judge or jury. Adjudication assumes that parties are unable to solve their own conflicts and a decision must be imported from the outside. It is similar to arbitration since a third party decides, but adjudication can begin without mutual consent.

Arbitration, like adjudication, involves a third-party deciding how to resolve a conflict. Parties who cannot resolve their conflict unassisted agree to empower an arbitrator to solve their conflict, are ordered to do so by a judge or manager, or are compelled by contract to seek arbitration. Typically, the arbitrator listens to both sides of the dispute, asks questions, and renders a judgment. When the parties contractually agree to arbitration, the judgment is enforceable in court.

Mediation is a very different process from adjudication or arbitration. In mediation, rather than having an authority resolve the conflict, mediators help the parties negotiate so they can reach an agreement. The job of the mediator, then, is to facilitate the parties to reach an agreement themselves.


The topic for this seminar is conflict intervention. We will discuss formal conflict intervention. You will be asked to discuss a formal conflict intervention that you have experienced. You will be also asked what made the intervention successful or unsuccessful.

Complete one of the following options:

Option 1: Participate in a synchronous seminar.

Briefly describe a formal conflict intervention you or someone you know has experienced. Was it successful? Why or why not?

How can a third-party help in informal intervention?

List the skills that can help you serve as a third-party to others. What skills do you lack at this point?

Discuss some times you have effectively helped others.

What are some of the cautions to remember when you considering being a third-party helper?

Final Project

Throughout this course you have been gathering information about your final project. Your final project will provide you with an opportunity to integrate conflict concepts covered in this class. Review the articles, case studies, seminar, and discussion question responses to help refresh your mind.

For your final project, write an essay between 1400 – 2000 words that discusses either the nature of power in conflict or negotiation in conflict. Use case studies listed in the application boxes in the text or create your own case to serve as an example for your discussion. You should include citations from the course to support your claims along with personal insight.

In your analysis, be sure top include the following:

  • Overview of the conflict

  • Presentation of the key facts

  • Recommended solutions

  • Alternative solutions

Project specifics:

  1. The paper must adhere to APA guidelines for citing references.

  2. Include a cover page, and reference page.

  3. Select either the nature of power in conflict or negotiation in conflict in your analysis.

  4. Use case studies listed in the application boxes in the text or create your own case to serve as an example for your discussion.

  5. Length of the paper should be 1400 - 2000 words.

Submit Your Final Project

Put your final project in a Word document. Save it in a location and with a name that you will remember. When you are ready to submit it, go to the dropbox and complete the steps below:

  • Click the link that says 'Submit an Assignment'.

  • In the 'Submit to Basket' menu, select Unit 9: Final Project Dropbox.

  • In the 'Comments' field, include at least the title of your paper.

  • Click the 'Add Attachments' button.

  • Follow the steps listed to attach your Word document.

  • To view your graded work, come back to the dropbox or go to the gradebook after your instructor has evaluated it.

Make sure that you save a copy of your submitted assignment.

Systems theory, TRIP goals, Difficult Conversations, etc., transform the conflict to collaboration. Collaboration is the only conflict strategy that enables both sides to achieve their goals. The trick to collaboration is open and honest communication, identifying goals that are mutually obtainable and desirable.

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