Dispute resolution is a term that refers to a process (or processes) used to arrive at mutually acceptable decisions. It is also sometimes referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) because It is an alternative to adversarial processes such as litigation or administrative processes that result in "win/lose" outcomes. Dispute resolution involves the application of theories, procedures, and skills designed to achieve an agreement that is satisfying and acceptable to all parties.
There are numerous dispute resolution techniques taking into account whether or not there is third-party assistance, such as a facilitator or mediator, how structured the process is, and the amount of structure or time. Another consideration in designing a dispute resolution process is how many parties have to be included to achieve a viable resolution. The figure to the right shows many of the available dispute resolution processes.
Dispute resolution processes can be used to resolve any type of dispute including family, neighborhood, employment, business, housing, personal injury, consumer, and environmental disputes.
For ten years Creighton served as Principal Investigator of a consultant team providing technical assistance to the US Army Corps of Engineers. He oversaw successful completion of more than 150 task orders providing facilitation, mediation, and development of training courses. Creighton served as editor of a series of guides covering all major ADR techniques, and served as editor of two major readers on public involvement and dispute resolution techniques. The Corps ADR
Program was awarded the Hammer Award by Vice President Gore as an example of reinventing government.
Creighton has served as facilitator or mediator for a number of dispute resolution processes, particularly involving land use planning or natural resource issues. Two of the areas in which he had played an important role include (1) Shared Vision Planning, and (2) Interagency Partnering.
Shared Vision Planning addresses fundamental problems that exist in many disputes: (1) people cannot agree on the basic facts about how the natural system actual operates; (2) people understand only one part of the resource puzzle, and do not understand how decisions in one part of the system affect other parts of the system; (3) people do not trust resource management agencies to evaluate alternatives fairly, believing they use study methodologies with hidden assumptions that favor the approaches these agencies already favor, and (4) they are not confident that agencies are considering all the alternatives. Shared Vision Planning (SVP) addresses these issues by actively engaging stakeholders in developing a computer model that will then be used to analyze the issues of greatest concern to stakeholders. In the process, participants develop a shared vision of how the natural system operates, begin to understand the linkages between the various parts of the system (water supply, flood control, habitat, etc.), actually participate in developing the tools that will be used to evaluate the alternatives, and can generate alternatives that can be tested using the model. Creighton developed a research protocol,evaluated numerous shared vision planning case studies, prepared an overall "how to" guide, and facilitated early conferences of leaders in the field.
The other major development was the recognition by federal agencies that many of their disputes with contractors were because contracting procedures were essentially adversarial. Federal agencies, particularly those who contracted for large construction projects, recognized that they could save time and money by partnering on projects with their contractors. The Department of Defense retained Creighton to lead the writing of a partnering guide for all the environmental missions in the Department. The US Amy Corps of Engineers also contracted with Creighton to prepare a partnering guide for the Corps' civil works mission.
In addition, the recognition grew that similar principles could be applied to situations where agencies -- federal, state, or local -- share management responsibilities for natural resources. For example, Department of Defense services share natural resource management responsibilities with various state and federal regulatory agencies. DOD retained Creighton to facilitate a working group representing these agencies, then develop a training course workbook to help agencies practice "joint stewardship."
Creighton was also retained to develop a training group for multi-agency teams developing installation natural resources plans.