An Analysis of the Complexity of Power in Facilitative Mediation and Practical Strategies for Ensuring a Fair Process

Journal article | March 2020 | Available for purchase & free for members


Can mediators guarantee procedural equality and demand respectful behaviour between participants to overcome imbalances of power between disputing parties? Power and power balancing in facilitative mediation is challenging and can illicit the best and the worst of mediator ethics and practice decision- making. Some practitioners feel challenged by the impact of power dynamics on their capacity to provide a fair and just process, while others are fearful of not being able to facilitate a fair and just outcome when imbalances of power are evident between the parties. This article considers the nature of power and power dynamics in facilitative mediation and explores how power dynamics shift between the parties. The article also discusses how the power inherent in the role of mediators — as facilitators of the process - impacts procedural and substantive justice in mediation; and outlines some practical strategies for achieving a fair process when a power imbalance between the parties exists.

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We thank the authors of this article Mieke Brandon and Rachael Field and the journal editor Russell Thirgood for their contribution to this journal.

Tags: Mediation, dispute handling administration, Power