Commentary: Comment on Frank Dukes's “what we know about environmental conflict resolution”

Published date01 September 2004
AuthorRosemary O'Leary,Lisa B. Bingham,Kirk Emerson
Date01 September 2004
Commentary: Comment on Frank Dukess “What We
Know About Environmental Conflict Resolution”
Frank Dukes’s summary and analysis of the empirical research concern-
ing environmental conflict resolution (ECR) was a joy to read. Several
of his conclusions struck us as exceptionally insightful. Dukes has demon-
strated that we have made a lot of progress since the days of earlier critiques
of ECR research (O’Leary, 1995), providing an excellent overview of the
empirical literature organized around structural questions in the field.
What stands out to us, however, is that few of these questions appear to be
well settled by the empirical research cited. This appears to be true for such
key characteristics as settlement rates, durability of agreements, compara-
tive process efficiency, and apparently even the value of third-party neutrals.
And yet public and private stakeholders continue to turn to ECR and
indeed have extended this innovation over the past thirty years beyond
its initial application in the litigation context, to other applications
upstream—to the enforcement arena, to rule making, and to policy and
site-specific plan development. Federal and state laws have been created,
including the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act and the Negotiated
Rulemaking Act, to clarify and broaden the use of ECR. Administrative
programs have been established—among them, the Conflict Prevention
and Resolution Center at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the
Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution Center at the U.S. Depart-
ment of Interior, and the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Reso-
lution at the Morris K. Udall Foundation—to build infrastructure and
garner resources to support more ECR. Indeed, the underlying principles
of the field are now being drawn on by some federal agencies to overhaul
internal management practices and reform individual and programmatic
performance measures.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION QUARTERLY, vol. 22, no. 1–2, Fall–Winter 2004 © Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 221
and the Association for Conflict Resolution

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