Two particular concepts have achieved prominence in the advancement of corporate business strategy and performance that have not gained nearly as much attention within the domain of corporate dispute resolution and conflict management. Those are: pursuing innovation in early, planned process design; and implementing methods of improved decision-making.

Innovation in business models and technology has driven improvements in productivity, production and management. Research and a robust body of literature on how to make better decisions and avoid decision errors have found their way into business schools and, by extension, into business practice.

Acknowledging that generalising is fraught with exceptions and that practices across companies and industries can vary widely, the premise of this brief article nonetheless is that dispute resolution approaches within business organisations tend to resist innovation to the degree pursued by the enterprise generally. Also, proven methods of making better decisions, backed by research in the behavioural sciences, can address this shortcoming through the development of internal systems that improve conflict management from the standpoints of cost, time to resolution and better outcomes.

To investigate current practices, this author and Professor John Lande of the University of Missouri School of Law conducted a study during the fall of 2015 about why and how some businesses use ‘planned early dispute resolution’ systems, and others do not. In broad summary, we found that several factors create barriers to change and produce a lag in innovation in dispute systems design that could move a company beyond a ‘litigation as usual’ approach:

Jul-Sep 2016 issue

Benner Resolutions