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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The United States Postal Service (USPS) REDRESS© program (Resolve Employment Disputes Reach Equitable Solutions Swiftly) shows how mediation can help manage workplace conflict in a large, unionized organization. One of the world’s largest employment mediation programs, it applied only to complaints of discrimination filed in USPS Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office. The dispute system design of this national conflict management program was unique in its use of transformative mediation conducted on the job. A twelve-year research collaboration between the USPS and Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs provided a comprehensive quantitative evaluation of an employment mediation program’s organizational impact. Transformative mediation focused on empowering disputants and fostering recognition of their interests. Using procedural justice theory to guide research design, studies found employees and supervisors were equally satisfied or highly satisfied with the process of mediation and mediators, and that the majority of both were satisfied with the outcomes. Outside neutral mediators were more effective than inside mediators who were USPS employees. Most employees and supervisors reported listening to each other in mediation, and close to one-third reported apologies. A multivariate national analysis reported a drop in formal adjudicated EEO complaints of over 25% that correlated with implementation of the program. Studies showed that interactional justice between employees and supervisors made important contributions to perceptions of organizational justice in the program.

Keywords: Conflict management, dispute system design, mediation, empowerment, recognition, discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, procedural justice, organizational justice, interactional justice

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