Originally published in 19 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 1 and
Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013/16
As attorneys for the world’s most visible clients, corporate counsel played a key role in the transformation of American conflict resolution in the late Twentieth Century. In 1997 a survey of Fortune 1,000 corporate counsel provided the first broad-based picture of conflict resolution processes within large companies. In 2011, a second landmark survey of corporate counsel in Fortune 1,000 companies captured a variety of critical changes in the ways large companies handle conflict. Comparing their responses to those of the mid-1990s, clear and significant evolutionary trends are observable, including a further shift in corporate orientation away from litigation and toward “alternative dispute resolution (ADR),” moderated expectations of ADR; increasing use of mediation, contrasted with a dramatic fall-off in arbitration (except, importantly, consumer and products liability cases); greater control over the selection of third-party neutrals; growing emphasis on proactive approaches such as early neutral evaluation, early case assessment, and integrated systems for managing employment disputes. This article summarizes and analyzes the results of the 2011 Fortune 1,000 survey, compares current data to the 1997 results, and sets both studies against the background of a half-century of evolution. The article concludes with reflections on the future of corporate dispute resolution and conflict management and related research questions.
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