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28 Negot. J. 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/nejo28 and id is 1 raw text is: 





             Editor's Note




I sometimes wonder  whether  our field tilts toward being conflict averse.
Count  me  in, of course, when it comes  to celebrating those who end
bloodshed. And  I tip my hat to others who  find more creative ways of
resolving legal disputes than rolling the win-lose dice in court. But in
cataloging the social and personal costs of conflict - and there are many
-  we  may overlook its positive aspects. On occasion conflict may be the
only means of securing civil rights and justice, for instance. Conflict can also
energize communities  and give birth to new ideas.
    Even  if conflict's overall costs outweigh its benefits, we still need to
understand it better so we can minimize the former while respecting the
latter. In some circles, however, even discussing the nature of conflict seems
ill-mannered at the very least. For example, a panel at the most recent
meeting  of the American Bar Association's Section of Dispute Resolution
considered  the propriety of teaching distributive negotiation and hard
bargaining in law school classrooms.
    To even  pose that question as debatable suggests an element of nego-
tiation correctness in our community, but we will soldier on. In a special
section (introduced more fully elsewhere in this issue), we are pleased to
publish the concurring opinions of the three panelists - Jennifer Brown,
Paul Kirgis, and Nancy Welsh. As it happens, they all agree that distributive
bargaining should be taught, although for somewhat different reasons. And
as you will see, they use different strategies and materials for teaching it.
    Conflict is also the focus of two other major pieces in this issue. Peter
Coleman, Katharina Kugler, Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, Andrzej Nowak, and Robin
Vallacher offer a new tool for understanding the dynamics of social conflict
in their article Getting Down to Basics: A Situated Model of Conflict in
Social Relations. The authors survey the extensive literature on social
conflict that has appeared in recent decades, but their review is not a
meta-study or a synopsis. Rather, it is a platform for advancing an overarch-
ing model  that pulls together prior work, much of which has been more
narrowly focused on particular aspects of social conflict.
     Specifically, the authors describe a three-dimensional space, defined first
by goal interdependence  on one surface, charting how parties' goals are
positively or negatively linked. A second set of coordinates charts relative
distribution of power and dominance. A  third introduces the nature and
degree of relational importance. The authors note both the interactivity
among  these three domains  and the dynamic processes that can move  a
conflict through this space -  more  precisely, I should say disputants'


Negotiation Journal January 2012 1

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