Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) grew from a simple yet profound observation about the nature of conflict that was being created by the development of e-commerce: we were creating conflict among parties who were in different legal venues, who were not involved in an ongoing relationship, and who could not reasonably come together face-to-face to take advantage of the ADR services available to those involved in “traditional” disputes.
From that “classic” notion of ODR have developed ever more sophisticated online platforms to handle the unique requirements of conflict created online. As Ethan Katsh has said, “the capacity of the Internet to resolve conflict is far less than the capacity of the Internet to create conflict.” There is no shortage of conflict or the need for ODR in the e-commerce arena.
But the most significant development in ODR over the past ten years has been the evolution from classic ODR to the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) into all aspects of conflict engagement. The practice of conflict engagement has evolved to the point that it is no longer useful to think of ODR and ADR as separate pursuits: ICT can and does touch all types of conflict and all types of conflict engagement.
HSI founder Daniel Rainey is one of the leading ODR educators and practitioners in the world. He was one of the instructors for the first university ODR course in the world, and he has developed graduate level ODR courses that, again for the first time in the world, are required as part of graduate degree programs in dispute resolution. As a practitioner he has designed ODR systems and he has been the driving force behind the groundbreaking integration of ICT into the dispute resolution processes of the National Mediation Board. He continues to work with clients in educational institutions, private industry, and the public sector to bring the advantages that ICT brings to communication, information handling, and group dynamics.
HSI founder Julia Morelli is an active mediator, with a practice that includes the use of ODR technology in traditional mediation settings (e.g., workplace disputes).
Some examples of ODR projects in which HSI has been involved include:
Airbnb CX training – Mediation Techniques in Customer Service
The International ODR Forum, Paris
Participant badge, with HSI sponsor credit.
The United Nations Funds and Programs Ombudsman
An HSI team is designing an ODR system to facilitate contact with parties in UN offices all over the world. The design will be presented in May, 2013.
National Science Foundation Grants
From 2004 through 2010, Daniel Rainey was involved as a researcher on two grants from the NSF designed to explore the relationship between technology and mediation. Mediation was used as a non-linear process to test whether process models could be used to facilitate conflict discourse.
One outcome of the NSF work noted above was the creation of an online brainstorming tool called STORM II. The application was used to conduct experiments regarding the impact of technology on the mediation process, and it is currently being revised in a “freeware” format to be made available to practitioners.