Cornell University

Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution

456 ILR Research Building, 607-255-9298

Past Projects

The Use of ADR by Major U.S. Corporations

The first major study undertaken by the Institute was a survey of the use of ADR by major U.S. corporations. In partnership with the PERC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP, developed and administered a survey of the Fortune 1000. David Lipsky and Ronald Seeber complete the analysis of the survey data and published a report, The Appropriate Resolution of Corporate Disputes: A Report on the Growing Use of ADR by U.S. Corporations (1998) and several articles based on their analyses. Their work has been widely used by ADR practitioners and extensively cited by scholars in the field.

The Emergence of Conflict Management Systems

The Fortune 1000 survey proved to be a platform for the development of other research projects.  In the course of conducting this survey, Seeber and Lipsky discovered that a vanguard of U.S. corporations were developing conflict management systems. Over the course of the next four years, the researchers conducted interviews at approximately thirty corporations. Using the data, they prepared and presented papers at conferences and appeared in an edited volume,  Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Employment Arena, edited by Samuel Estreicher and David Sherwyn.  In 2003, Lipsky, Seeber and Richard Fincher wrote Emerging Systems for Managing Workplace Conflict:  Lessons from American Corporations for Managers and Dispute Resolution Professionals.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in the NYS Workers' Compensation System

Over the past few years, more than twenty states have initiated ADR programs for workers' compensation. Ronald Seeber and Robert S. Smith, professor and associate dean at the ILR School, subsequently conducted an evaluation of the ADR systems used under four collective bargaining agreements in the construction industry.  Their evaluation made use of data on over 6,000 injuries and surveys of more than 3,000 workers, examining their experiences in the medical, insurance, and dispute resolution parts of the workers' compensation system.  The report, An Evaluation of the New York State Workers' Compensation Pilot Program, was completed in December of 2001 and submitted to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

An Evaluation of a Pilot Mediation for Enforcement Cases Handled by the U.S. Department of Labor

In October 2000 the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a research grant of $1.1 million to the Institute to develop a pilot program to determine the most effective means of mediating enforcement disputes arising within the jurisdiction of the Department.

In April 2003 the Institute submitted a report to the Department of Labor containing an evaluation of the first two years of the operation of the program.  After two years of operation, twenty-five cases had been referred to the pilot program by the Solicitor’s office (and several more were in the pipeline).  The settlement rate for the cases submitted to mediation was 86 percent, a rate comparable to or better than the experience of a variety of other mediation programs.

Based on survey data and field interviews conducted by faculty associated with ICR, the program was favorably received by all the parties involved in the process, including the parties' attorneys and the mediators. In August 2003 the Institute submitted its final report, Developing a Mediation Program for the U.S. Department of Labor:  An Evaluation of a Pilot Program for Enforcement Cases, co-authored by Lipsky, Seeber, Scanza, and Les Hough (then director of the Usery Center) to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Arbitration Profession in Transition

In the fall of 1998 Seeber and Lipsky received a grant from the National Academy of Arbitrators’ Research and Education Foundation to conduct a survey of the 600 active members of the Academy.  The purpose of the survey was to determine the extent to which the members of this elite body of labor-management arbitrators had extended their practices beyond collective bargaining into ADR.

In June 2000, ICR published a report, The Arbitration Profession in Transition:  A Survey of the National Academy of Arbitrators, co-authored by Seeber, Lipsky, and Michel Picher, containing an analysis of the survey results. Building on their Academy survey, Seeber and Lipsky began a new stream of research on employment arbitrators in 2004 and presented and published papers on their research.

Negotiations and Change: From the Workplace to Society

In October 1998 Lipsky and Thomas Kochan (MIT) organized a conference honoring Robert McKersie on the occasion of his retirement from the MIT faculty. Subsequently, Lipsky and Kochan developed a volume of papers based on the conference, and in 2000, they submitted the volume to the Cornell University Press for publication.  The volume, Negotiations and Change:  From the Workplace to Society, was published by the Press in 2003.

The Role of Labor-Management Relations in Delivering Quality Government Services

On April 13-15, 2000 the Institute, in cooperation with the Cascade Center for Public Service at the University of Washington and the Chicago-Kent College of Law, held a conference on "The Future of Public Sector Labor-Management Relations:  Working Together to Achieve Excellence in the 21st Century," in Chicago, Illinois.  It brought together about forty academics, practitioners, and government leaders and was designed to build upon the findings of the report, Working Together for Public Service, prepared by the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Task Force on Excellence in State and Local Government through Labor-Management Cooperation and published in 1996. During 2002-2003, Brock and Lipsky continued to work with many of the participants in the 2000 conference on the preparation of a volume for the Industrial Relations Research Association.  In the Fall of 2003, that volume, Going Public:  The Role of Labor-Management Relations in Delivering Quality Government Services, was published.

An Analysis of Employment Arbitration under the National Association of Securities Dealers

The growth of employment (nonunion) arbitration in the United States has been one of the most controversial developments in U.S. employment relations.  The debate on employment arbitration has in part centered on whether employment arbitration provides a level playing field and adequate due process for employers and, especially, employees. Seeber and Lipsky, in collaboration with Professor Martin Wells, plan to analyze data on NASD employment arbitration cases that will allow them to cast additional light on the "repeat-player effect" as well as other critical issues in the employment arbitration debate.

Evaluating Online Dispute Resolution

In 2005 Lipsky and Avgar began to conduct research on the effectiveness of online dispute resolution (ODR).  The use of both synchronous (e.g., videoconferencing) and asynchronous (e.g., websites) technologies for resolving disputes has grown significantly over the last decade or so.  Although several scholars have enumerated the advantages and disadvantages of ODR, the bulk of the research conducted on the topic has been atheoretical.  Lipsky and Avgar attempted to fill this gap in scholarship by applying bargaining and negotiation theory to ODR.  Their article, "Online Dispute Resolution through the Lens of Bargaining and Negotiation Theory:  Toward an Integrated Model," was published in the University of Toledo Law Review in the fall of 2006.