Company-Community Dispute Resolution

A development project's land, material, and labor costs are easy to anticipate. But what is the cost of poor community relations?

Company-Community Dispute Resolution

If local stakeholders feel shut out of project planning and implementation, the costs to both companies and communities can be enormous.

We all know the outcomes of poor company-community engagement: litigation, bundhs, protests, labor strikes, project delays, and damaged reputations and relationships. But these outcomes are not inevitable, and can be avoided with proactive and strategic company-community engagement. It requires commitment from companies and communities to build mutual understanding, but the rewards for both parties are great. Communities have a real say in development, while companies achieve a long-term and credible social license to operate.

Meta‑Culture offers tools to help companies and communities manage differences.

  • We design and implement processes for effective Community Outreach, Education, and Consultation, which give communities the opportunity to ask questions while allowing companies to learn about community members' interests and address misunderstandings.
  • We design forums for effective Participatory Project Planning that foster community trust in

the project and the company. When community members have an active role in project planning and decision-making, they are more likely to be invested in project outcomes.

  • Mediation provides a safe and structured environment for company and community representatives to resolve disputes. Our Mediators help parties understand each other's concerns, analyze the problems, and identify solutions to meet collective interests - without involving the courts and away from the full glare of the media.
  • Using Facilitated Dialogue and Consensus Building, our Facilitators work with parties to plan and conduct a series of meetings that help everyone understand the issues and stakeholders' different perspectives. After reaching greater mutual understanding, the group moves forward with collaborative problem solving and decision making.

  • FAQs
    Why should I sit at the table with someone I don't trust?
    While trust is important, it should not be a condition for parties to engage. Many potential conversations never happen because the parties are waiting for the other to demonstrate trustworthiness. But in a situation where there is conflict, or where stakeholders have competing interests, it is unrealistic to start with trust. Trust takes time to build, and can only happen through a sustained process of constructive engagement.
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For some companies, globalization implies exemption from national regulations and the responsibilities inherent in a local community presence. Unless you plan on setting up a factory on the moon, get used to the fact that most earthlings quickly form opinions on whether or not your company is a good neighbor.