Parameters to consider if your organization wants to resolve its' disputes online

picture of videoconference thinking of ODRThe more we interact online, the more disputes will happen in that medium.   ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) is an extension of ADR (aka Alternative /Appropriate Dispute Resolution).   ODR is becoming the defacto way to resolve cyberspace disputes.   It only makes sense!

There is some interesting things going on in the field of ODR.   In late October, I participated in the annual Cyberweek 2009 Coordinated by Ethan Katsh, Director of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.   Cyberweek showcases ODR product simulations and demonstrations, facilitates plenary discussions related to ODR, and supports relevant real-time events.   Since then, I’ve also been part of some interesting ODR conversations taking place on social media channels, including LinkedIn.  In the past, I’ve posted on resolving conflict online vs. offline similarities and differences, based on my own experiences in a small claims context.   Building on the above, here’s my list of the basic parameters that I think you should consider as you explore/adopt ODR in your own organization…

ODR parameters

Parties involved:

  • Type of dispute (commercial, family, community, public)
  • Suitability for mediation (power imbalances, perception of neutrality)
  • Degree of stress for participants
  • Complexity of dispute (# issues, # participants, cultural differences, previous history)
  • Case/transaction volumes (one-off, high volume/frequency)
  • Location of participants (global, local, hybrid)
  • Timeline for resolving the dispute (ASAP? scheduling challenges (bringing parties together))
  • FOIA, confidentiality requirements

3rd party (neutral) considerations:

  • Type of 3rd party involvement (in-house facilitator, contract mediator, jury)
  • 3rd party qualifications
  • 3rd party availability (24×7, daytime only)

4th party (information communication technologies (ICT)) considerations:

  • Extent that ICT provides structure to the process (vendor solution, custom design)
  • Tool requirements (self-diagnostics, web conferencing, information management)
  • Communication options (voice, video, written, mobile…)
  • Communication frequency (Asynchronous, real-time interactive)

General considerations:

  • Assessment of other resolution models (arbitration, tribunal, meet over a (virtual?) coffee)
  • Degree of innovation (resolution process, use of ICT)
  • Knowledge transfer expectations (to subsequent disputes, learning organization, disputing parties…)
  • Resolution agreement (terms of agreement, sustainability, enforcement clauses …)
  • Relationships (always!)
  • Cost model


Some ODR Resources

In addition, for those considering ODR, there are numerous exciting ODR products, services, and ideas that are worth checking out:

What other parameters and/or resources would you add to the list?

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Photo credit: klessblog


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