The Move Crisis In Philadelphia

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The Move Crisis in Philadelphia

The Move Crisis in Philadelphia

About the Author

Hizkias Assefa is a professor of conflict studies at Eastern Mennonite University's Conflict Transformation Program. Operating out of his base in Nairobi, Kenya, he works as a mediator and facilitator of reconciliation processes in a number of civil wars in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. He has worked as an attorney and consultant on conflict resolution and peacebuilding to the United Nations, European Union and international and national NGOs in situations of humanitarian crises. Mr. Assefa is currently an associate faculty member at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. He holds a master of law from Northwestern University and a master in economics and Ph.D. in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Analysis of the Book

This book provides a historical context of the emergence of third-party intervention amidst the great Philadelphia Move Crises. In general, third-party intervention is designed to get negotiations back on track. At a minimum, it brings negotiators back to the table and provides a cooling-off process for highly emotional negotiations. It also can reestablish and refocus communication on the substantive issues and impose or reinforce deadlines designed to keep the negotiation moving forward.

Neutral third parties may also help negotiators resolve the substance of their conflicts. Mediators, who take control of the process, work with the parties both to repair strained relationships and to help them develop and endorse an agreement; mediators meet with parties individually, gaining an understanding of the various issues and perspectives, and identify—and help the parties develop—possible agreements.

Arbitrators, who take control of the outcome, help negotiators primarily by providing a solution. Thus, the goal of arbitration is to design settlements. In general, the arbitrator hears each party's case and then decides the outcome; however, there are several forms of arbitration. In binding arbitration, for example, the parties agree beforehand that they will accept any resulting settlement an arbitrator designs. In final-offer arbitration, parties submit their preferred agreements, one of which is selected by the arbitrator.

Mediation and arbitration may also be combined to create hybrid processes. In some organizational dispute-resolution systems, mediation is a preliminary step leading to arbitration if an agreement is not reached. The reasoning behind this “med-arb” procedure is that if the parties cannot craft a solution themselves with the help of a mediator, then the dispute automatically goes to arbitration (i.e., the mediator becomes an arbitrator) and is resolved for them.

Another hybrid process is “arb-med,” which consists of three phases. In the first phase, the third party holds an arbitration hearing and places the decision in a sealed envelope. This phase is followed by mediation, during which the arbitrator's envelope (i.e., decision) is prominently displayed. If mediation fails, the envelope is then opened, revealing the arbitrated decision. When comparing these two hybrid processes, arb-med resulted in more mediated settlements and in settlements of greater joint benefit.

Like negotiation, mediation and arbitration can be extremely effective ways of resolving ...
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