Conflict Resolution and the Transformation of the Social Contract

TitleConflict Resolution and the Transformation of the Social Contract
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsLipsky, D. B.
Conference NameFifty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association
KeywordsADR, alternative dispute resolution, dispute resolution, industrial relations, social contract, workplace conflict

[Excerpt] Here is my argument in a nutshell. Beginning more than thirty years ago, the social contract that had governed relations between workers and employers in the United States for the period following World War II began to unravel. Other scholars, most notably Tom Kochan, Harry Katz, and Bob McKersie, have charted the transformation of American industrial relations that began in the 1970s and to a great extent continues today (Kochan et al. 1986). Seeber and I have argued that the emerging social contract that had been produced by the transformation of U.S. industrial relations has had particularly profound consequences for the handling of workplace conflict. To a degree, the rise of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been the most obvious manifestation of how workplace conflict is handled under the new social contract. But our research has led us to believe that there is a much deeper, systemic shift that is occurring in the management of workplace conflict. We have focused on a development that moves conflict resolution significantly beyond ADR—we have emphasized the significance of the emergence of so-called integrated conflict management systems (Lipsky et al. 2003, Lipsky and Seeber 2003).