Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

(ADR) is a set of methods to resolve disputes that are alternatives to classic confrontational approaches such as litigation and protest. In general ADR is defined by a set of specific characteristics: facilitation by a skilled third party; direct participation of the disputing parties; non-adversarial engagement; analytic problem-solving; creativity; collaboration; and mutually acceptable solutions.



Arbitration is a legal form of ADR used to resolve a dispute outside of court. The disputing parties are referred to one or more persons (the "arbitrators") by whose decision they agree to be bound. The arbitrator reviews the evidence in the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding and enforceable for both sides. Arbitration is different from and should not be confused with mediation.

Conflict Management

Conflict Management is a generic term referring to the entire range of approaches and methodologies that help address conflict. Sometimes the term also refers to the narrow process of ‘containing or managing conflict’, without attempting deeper resolution.


Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution is a more specific term used to talk about specific processes that address and help resolve both simple and deep-rooted conflict. Effective conflict resolution ensures that attitudes are no longer hostile, behaviors no longer violent, and the structure of the conflict has been changed. The term refers both to the process used to bring about these changes, and to the resolution itself.

Conflict Set tlement

Conflict Settlement, while a commonly used process, is not a wholly satisfactory method of dealing with conflict. The emphasis is to "settle" the conflict as soon as possible. To this end, the conflict is escalated to an authoritative third party (like an arbitrator or judge) and an agreement cobbled together. While the settlement may bring an end to the immediate and explicit conflict, it is neither deep-rooted nor sustainable because it fails to address underlying attitudes, relationships, and structural contradictions. The solutions are therefore at risk of unraveling.


Conflict Transformation

Conflict Transformation is a powerful (and not easily attained) step in a conflict resolution process where, beyond arriving at a mutually acceptable solution, parties find that the process has changed their relationships with other disputants, as well as their understanding of and engagement with the conflict itself.

Consensus Building

Consensus Building is a collaborative process that brings together parties over an issue of mutual concern and helps them share interests, explore options, and produce agreements that are better than their “no-agreement” alternatives. A consensus is a collective decision that is reached through honest discussion, without a preliminary vote, and is inclusive of everybody’s will. In Consensus Building, every participant's opinion is considered; even as the group agrees on some things, it also makes allowances for differences. The final agreement is one everyone can “live with,” even if members may differ about certain details.


Dialogue Facilitation

Dialogue Facilitation is a key Conflict Resolution methodology and a Meta‑Culture core competency. As practitioners we use the term Dialogue in a very deliberate and specific way. Dialogue is a methodology for helping people with competing views to engage in focused and productive conversation so that they deepen their understanding of each other.


Dispute Management Systems

Dispute Management Systems are designed by Conflict Resolution professionals to ensure timely, efficient, and effective dispute management in organizations. Whereas a typical grievance system is escalatory and investigatory, a dispute management system moves beyond simple investigation to complex appreciation of the dispute and empowers the parties to take on ownership of the problem and its resolution.


Mediation is a legal form of ADR used to resolve a dispute outside of court. It is the process by which a trained third party facilitator (the “mediator”) helps two or more disputants explore their differences and come to a resolution. It is a voluntary process in which parties retain control over the outcome or agreement. Mediation can be applied to disputes in the family, community, or workplace. Mediation is different from and should not be confused with arbitration.


Meeting Facilitation

Meeting Facilitation is a service used to ensure that internal and external meetings are constructive and decisions have the buy-in of all participants. The role of the facilitator is to design an agenda, provide structure, and facilitate communication among participants so that their deliberation is constructive and decision-making effective.



Negotiation is critical part of any Dispute Resolution mechanism. In Negotiation parties try to amicably settle or resolve their differences through mutual give and take. Parties can also use negotiation to come to an agreement on a course of action, the terms of a business engagement, or a solution to individual or collective needs.



This refers to Meta‑Culture’s speaker services. Our experts on Consensus Building, Conflict Management and Critical and Creative Thinking are avilable to speak at events and conferences. Our goal is to inform audiences about collaboration processes and other critical methodologies that can change the quality of engagement within and between stakeholders.

Workplace Mediation

Workplace Mediation is the application of the mediation process to workplace disputes. The mediator can be either internal (from within the company) or external. The goal is to find a mutually satisfactory agreement between parties – thus preventing escalation to senior management, frayed relationships, loss of morale, and attrition. Mediation is unique in that it is the only process that consciously develops in employees, who have been part of the process, the skills and disposition necessary to engage with differences and disputes.


Politicians, businessmen, civic leaders, and even academics often bandy about terms like "dialogue," "negotiation," and "mediation" to convey attempts to "talk" or "discuss." As practitioners of Conlict Resolution, we cringe at their imprecise use of these terms. The danger of using these terms without precision, or to do so even interchangeably, is that both the public and key stakeholders (who have seen many "dialogues" and "negotiations" lounder) develop dialogue fatigue. Without having genuinely understood or even experienced a real Dialogue process, as we understand such a process, they come to believe that enough time and energy has been spent in "dialogue" without any appreciable result. Hence they conclude that "dialogue" does not work.