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Keywords:

  • mediation;
  • responsibility;
  • cooperation;
  • workplace conflict

Mediators generally avoid the issue of whether parties accept their individual share of responsibility for a conflict. But the results of this study demonstrate the important role that taking responsibility for the conflict can play to encourage the emergence of cooperation within the mediation process. In this article, the author first explores the role of responsibility within the context of various mediation approaches and styles. Next, he reports the results of a quantitative study that examined the attitudes of disputants involved in workplace conflict mediations. His results indicate that acceptance of responsibility can play a parodixical role in the mediation process: it seems to be effective only when both parties jointly acknowledge responsibility. When responsibility is acknowledged unilaterally, it seems to have a negative effect on the emergence of cooperation. Finally, the author proposes an intervention strategy for mediators that is designed to encourage the joint acceptance of responsibility and thus facilitate the emergence of cooperation in mediation.