Mediators with Italian Characteristics. Styles, Conflict Attitudes and Settlement Rates

Luigi Cominelli

Università degli Studi di Milano

Claudio Lucchiari

University of Milan

February 28, 2016


Mediation has been in recent years at the center stage of European legislation. Through the collaboration of the conciliation service of the Chamber of Arbitration of Milan, we analyzed a questionnaire sent to 200 mediators registered with the mediation providers managed by the Italian Chambers of Commerce. A major issue, also be related to the attitude to the conflict, was the style of mediators. To determine the stylistic orientation of the mediator, we tried to find out what types of behavior by respondents corresponded to his/her own style as a mediator, and the style that ideally they believed the most correct. In this way we tried to typify styles, similarly to what had already been done with the attitudes to the conflict, but without using explicit definitions, and so avoiding a labeling that would undoubtedly threaten to target the mediator in a certain direction. We sought to investigate three areas relevant to the professionalism and attitudes of the mediators: 1) the style of mediation; 2) the personal attitude towards the conflict; 3) effectiveness in leading the parties to a negotiated agreement in mediation. As for the distribution of the style of mediation compared to the characteristics of the respondents, there were no major differences by gender, age and experience of mediation. Compared to the attitudes to conflict resolution, there is a majority of collaborating styles (35%), followed by the avoidant styles (17.8%) and competitive (16:56%). The styles less represented are compromise (28.8%) and accommodation (7%). However, about 15% of the respondents reported mixed attitudes. The distribution of the styles of conflict management is homogenous even compared the experience of mediation and the number of mediation agreements. However, the avoidant style shows a significant difference with regard to the number of mediations closed.

We then probed the relationship between the variables related to characteristics of respondents (age, length of service, number of mediation, mediation style and attitude to the conflict) through correlation analysis. The index r of pearson shows no correlation between age and other variables. Instead, the level of experience, measured as the number of years since the first mediation at the time of filling in this form, not only correlates, as expected, with the number of mediations conducted, but also with the style of mediation. Expert mediators, in fact, bring more transformative style. There were no significant correlations between the style of mediation and the attitude of the respondents to the conflict. This result contrasts with the prejudice that mediators with a directive approach (ie evaluative mediators, and sometimes even transformative mediators) have a higher rate of agreement. A second significant result is that individuals with economic education have a higher rate of agreements with respect to the lawyers. In this regard, it is interesting to note a potential association between success rate and post-graduate training. In fact, although not by a significant difference due to the relatively small sample, respondents with a post-graduate training in economics or accounting, report rates of agreement significantly higher than those who reported a background in law, in ADR, in psychology or who do not report a post-graduate training. Finally, the gender factor was significant compared to the rate of agreement. The anova test on the rate of mediation agreements shows a significant difference between men and women. In particular, men show a statistically higher rate of agreement of women. The conclusion of an agreement between the parties is not the only way to determine the effectiveness of the mediator. It is known that in many cases, even a mediation which is not crowned by an agreement, leads the parties through a process of mutual recognition and to manage the conflict underlying the dispute, which results in a resolution only in the medium-long term. In these cases, much of the work of mediation occurs long after the mediator has concluded the process. However, in this historic phase of mediation in Italy, we felt that the rate of agreement between the parties could be a satisfactory measure of the effectiveness of the mediator. The Italian model is definitely legalistic, but its practical results seems not so distant from the results obtained in voluntary models. Again, it seems that the style of the mediator might be of some use as a paradigm of orientation with respect to each phase of the process, but has no sufficient predictive value to be confirmed as a key to the functioning of the mediation.

Mediators with Italian Characteristics. Styles, Conflict Attitudes and Settlement Rates

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