2016 is promising to be an important year for presenting about research into ADR as there are a number of upcoming conferences (see previous posts for details). First there is the upcoming conference at the ACIJ at Monash University’s law premises in the city of Melbourne. This Conference on the Civil Justice system will address, along with a range of civil issues, the place of ADR in our legal system. Second, there is the National Mediation Conference in September at the Gold Coast. This biannual event is always the highlight of research for me as there is a mix of practitioners, industry bodies and researchers. I have fond memories of meeting with people from industry and later collaborating on projects sprung from conversations held at this Conference.
Later in the year is our own ADR Research Roundtable which will be held in December in Tasmania at UTAS. It promises to be another exciting venue for cutting edge research. The Roundtable in Sydney in 2015, held at UNSW, was a big success.
My paper at the conference dealt with conflict in planning. It was a work in progress paper that I received valuable feedback about. I will give you a short description of the paper and then outline the feedback to highlight the value of presenting research in ADR. As you are probably aware planners routinely deal with issues involving conflict. Planners working in development approval roles in particular are regularly engaged in situations involving people who may be upset, angry and at times aggressive. Individuals involved in planning disputes may represent powerful vested interests or hold passionate personal views, heightening emotions for a whole range of reasons.
My joint paper with Professor Robin Goodman reported on recent interviews conducted with 17 planners employed in four differing local governments in Melbourne, Australia. In these semi-structured interviews planners discussed their experience with conflicts, the adequacy of their training in areas of conflict resolution and reflected on their preparation for some of the most challenging aspects of their profession. The results confirmed the need for greater emphasis to be placed on teaching a range of personal and professional behaviours relating to conflict in planning education.
The interesting feedback that we received at the Sydney Roundtable queried whether we had realised that many of the issues relating to planners and conflict were likely caused by poor dispute resolution design. If the design was more innovative, allowing for better “voicing” of community concerns, it may be that planners would not bear the brunt of objectors and developers anger. This feedback has led us to a new fork in our research, exploring the development of innovative dispute resolution design in planning conflicts. We hope to present our new paper at the National Mediation Conference. This is one example of the value of presenting your research because the peer feedback can give that “aha” moment beloved of researchers!
Consider getting involved in presenting…..it can have some great benefits!