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Ombudspersons or peers? The effects of third party expertise and recommendations on negotiation


Journal of Applied Psychology


Organisational Behaviour

Publishing details

Journal of Applied Psychology 1999 Vol 84:5 p 776-785

Authors / Editors

Arnold J A;O'Connor K M

Publication Year



Despite the prevalence of ombudspersons (also called "ombudsmen" or "ombuds") in organizations, little empirical research has examined their effectiveness in mediating workplace conflicts. In this laboratory study, the influence of these expert third parties was modeled. Specifically, the effects of mediator expertise and the content of the mediator's recommendations on disputants' perceptions and behavior were examined. Results showed that disputant offers remained inelastic when peers made recommendations, regardless of recommendation quality. However, the recommendations of expert third parties significantly influenced disputants' offers. Disputants reduced their offers when experts made unintegrative recommendations, and they kept their offers high when experts gave integrative-compromise recommendations. The implications of these findings for conflict-management research and organizational dispute resolution are discussed.

Available on ECCH


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