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The enactment of workplace mediation in British Universities: A study of mediator meta-theory and the integration of practice

poyntz, roy (2018) The enactment of workplace mediation in British Universities: A study of mediator meta-theory and the integration of practice. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Research in the field of mediation has sought to demonstrate its effectiveness in resolving disputes. Less attention however, has been paid to how mediators perform their role and how they draw on theory to underpin and integrate their practice. This study explores mediation as a social interaction from the perspective of the mediator by drawing on the experiences of 18 workplace mediators in five British universities and their accounts of practice. The study finds that university mediators enact the facilitative model of mediation as a relational, intersubjective and co-constructed practice that is distinct from the theory embedded in the formal model in which most are trained. An explanation for this difference is found in meta-theory, the overarching philosophy that frames actual practice rather than practice being composed of strategically selected techniques. The workplace mediators who participated in this research were relatively inexperienced – fewer than 20 cases – and the study sheds light on their professional development as they sought to develop their own theories of practice. The study identifies habitual practice and heedful performance as stages in this development and characterised by a mediator’s increasing fluency in interaction. The research finds that mediator learning is currently supported by reflective practice but demonstrates the role that reflexive practice can play in developing mediator understanding of interaction, leading the mediator to be intentional in interaction rather than rely on intuition. Workplace mediation in universities is commonly conducted by co-mediating pairs. Conventionally, co-mediation is understood as a support mechanism for less experienced mediators. This study highlights that co-mediation is made effective by relational trust and demonstrates that co-mediation enhances the delivery of mediation by providing a stage and actors for dramaturgical performance. In particular, experienced co-mediators were found to perform vulnerability, inviting the parties to respond by interacting with openness and trust.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: mediation meta-theory; mediator learning; relational mediation; co-mediation
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Depositing User: roy poyntz
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2018 09:01
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2018 09:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21604

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