Cultivating Dialogue: From Fragmentation to Relationality in Conflict Interaction


Ran Kuttner is an associate professor at the Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. His e-mail address is


This article builds on the tendency in recent decades in the field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to analyze conflict and its transformation from a relational perspective. It surveys developments in twentieth-century philosophy that support the ongoing quest to explore the self in ADR from a relational perspective. It then shows how the concept of dialogue provides a framework for understanding conflict transformation from a relational perspective, by exploring the relational foundations of dialogue. It also draws a connection between the growing use of mindfulness practices in conflict settings and the practice of dialogue, suggesting that Buddhist philosophy and practices can help cultivate relational awareness and dialogue. The article therefore suggests that incorporating dialogue and exploring its relational characteristics can assist ADR scholars and practitioners to develop further practices that can promote collaboration by shifting disputants from adversarial and fragmented orientations to more relational mindsets.