Alternative/appropriate Dispute (Conflict) Resolution (ADR): The Psychological Facilitators

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Alternative/Appropriate Dispute (Conflict) Resolution (ADR) is the pragmatic practice of settling or resolving inter-socio-human discords. It is strategic oriented in the sense that it adapts to situational circumstances, as it strives to find the "appropriate" dispute/conflict settlement model(s). Basically, persistent dispute/conflict and its correlates of animosity and disagreement are internalized through biased socialization (Gbenda, 2009). As dispute/conflict is an inherent element of socio-human relations, efforts should be made to ensure that it should not be dysfunctional. That is the essence of the alternative/appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) models. The Nigerian socio-cultural perception of litigation makes its perspective of dispute/conflict management cantankerous. Litigation rarely resolves the fundamental psychological attributes necessary for effective dispute/conflict management. As identified by Nwankwo (2009), some of these crises management strategies that are founded on psychology attributes include participation, socio-cultural manipulation, equity, and dialogue. The high legal officialdom of litigation deprives parties to the dispute/conflict some participatory and constructive human qualities that are inevitable for cathartic crises management. Essentially, litigation has the major advantage of using the societal and institutional coercive legitimacy and mechanisms to resolve conflict among recalcitrant parties. On the other hand, alternative (appropriate) dispute resolution (ADR) is more amenable to the psychosocial causes of dispute/conflict. Interestingly, Njoku (2009) recommends a healthy hybrid of both litigation, and alternative (appropriate) dispute resolution (ADR) in effective and efficacious dispute resolution/management.

The word "Alternative" in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) connotes other avenues of resolving dispute/conflict like negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and hybrid processes other than litigation. On the other hand, the word "Appropriate" connotes adopting and adapting the most suitable model(s) of dispute/conflict resolution among the models of litigation, negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and hybrid processes. Thus, while "Alternative" Dispute Resolution (ALTERNATIVE DR) seemly excludes litigation in its dispute/conflict management models, "Appropriate" Dispute Resolution (APPROPRIATE DR) seemly includes litigation in its dispute/conflict management models. As a result, alternative dispute resolution (ALTERNATIVE DR) may not be right in settling criminal matters, while appropriate dispute resolution (APPROPRIATE DR) may be very right. Nevertheless, Nwanekezie (2009) tends to incline to the "Appropriate" Dispute Resolution (APPROPRIATE DR) as a better dispute/conflict management strategy. This is because it is more pragmatic, adaptive, and is psycho-situational sensitive to the strategic goal of dispute/conflict management.


Alternative/Appropriate dispute resolution is usually targeted toward achieving preventive and therapeutic strategic goals (Nowakowski, 2009) depending on the situation and scale of the dispute/conflict. The strategic goals of alternative/appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) are as discussed below.

Dispute Prevention: This involves taking proactive measures aimed at inhibiting the development of interpersonal relations that can possibly induce potential conflict/dispute. For instance, timely handling of discrimination and other unhealthy practices in an organization can aid immensely in conflict resolution. Dispute prevention is a very healthy and constructive strategy of dispute/conflict resolution. It is a timely intervention activity that makes dispute prevention cheaper, safer, easily accessible, friendly, and constructive in settling interpersonal crises. It is not surprising therefore that Umar (2008) reflected extensively the fact that checking/controlling psychologal extremism is a significant dispute/conflict prevention mechanism. …