DR Researcher Profile: Assoc Prof Jonathan Crowe

We introduce our occasional “DR Researcher Profile” with Associate Professor Jonathan Crowe, of the University of Queensland.

Jonathan is primarily an Academic  and his profile can be found here. Research is his main professional focus. Here are his answers to some questions about his DR research interests.

Why did you become interested in the dispute resolution field?

My research is mainly in legal philosophy – particularly the relationship between law and ethics. I first became interested in dispute resolution through working with Associate Professor Rachael Field. I was doing some work on the concept of government neutrality and Rachael mentioned that she was researching related issues concerning neutrality in mediation. We wrote an article together exploring this topic and I’ve been more and more interested since then in ADR and mediation, especially its ethical dimensions.

What is your particular area of dispute resolution research interest?

My main focus is on the ethics of mediation – both the issues faced by mediators in practice and also the  broader ethical issues raised by mediation as a form of dispute resolution. What makes mediation legitimate as a way of resolving disputes? What are its ethical advantages and disadvantages compared to other dispute resolution processes? How can mediators address the power imbalances that sometimes arise between the parties?

Whose research has influenced you? Why/How?

I have been influenced by feminist writing on mediation and family law – for example, the work of Carol Smart and Carole Pateman on gender and the family. I’ve also been influenced by broader philosophical theories on the authority and legitimacy of legal processes, including authors like Joseph Raz, Lon Fuller and Ronald Dworkin.

What dispute resolution research are you involved in at the moment?

Rachael Field and I are currently co-authoring a book, tentatively entitled After Neutrality: A New Theory of Mediation Ethics. The notion of mediator neutrality has been widely critiqued as a basis for mediation ethics, so this raises the question of what alternative ideas or principles might replace it. Our take on this issue combines a focus on party self-determination with a view of ethical principles and guidelines as arising organically from the mediation process.

Where would you like to take your dispute resolution research work over the next ten years?

The idea of mediation as a profession raises a lot of interesting directions for future research. What exactly does the concept of a ‘profession’ mean in this context? Does the notion of a profession suggest a particular picture of the mediation community? What would this mean for the way mediators share ideas and values (through practice guidelines, accreditation processes, professional networks and the like)?

What advice do you have for emerging dispute resolution researchers?

I have found dispute resolution scholars to be consistently collegial, welcoming and open to sharing ideas and practices (especially my valued colleagues in the ADR Research Network!) It is a field with many interesting ideas and questions awaiting exploration. I would encourage new scholars to talk widely to more experienced researchers and practitioners – and to be open to the potential insights of interdisciplinary approaches.

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About Dr Olivia Rundle

Dr Rundle is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania. She has worked as a nationally accredited mediator and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Dr Rundle is especially interested in the role of lawyers in dispute resolution processes and the policy environment that positively encourages lawyers to engage with dispute resolution. She teaches and researches in broad areas of Dispute Resolution, Civil Procedure and Family Law.

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