PhD Thesis Title: Workplace Mediators in Ireland: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study
Supervisor: Professor Bill Roche
External Examiner: Dr Deborah Hann, School of Business, Cardiff University
This thesis presents the results of the first systematic study of workplace mediators in Ireland. The thesis examines the characteristics and features of workplace mediation using a mixed methods study. The research identified, for the first time, the active population of workplace mediators in Ireland. Mediation entered the workplace conflict resolution lexicon from 2002-2004 at the ‘macro-level’ of State policy; at the ‘meso-level’ through the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland, and at the ‘micro-level’ of organisations. Findings are based on qualitative data obtained from six focus groups, with 25 participants, seven interviews with internal mediation service coordinators and an officer of the Workplace Relations Commission. Quantitative data were obtained from a survey of 144 workplace mediators.
The combined findings from the mixed methods are consistent with the claims of the literature in a number of areas The research, however, advances knowledge in the emerging theoretical domain of workplace mediation in a number of ways. The research shows that as workplace mediation has developed to address more individual conflict issues inside organisations, the ‘three-stage mediation process’ identified in in the literature is more commonly a ‘six-stage’ process in practice. The thesis shows that workplace mediators in Ireland are ‘general practitioners’, often combining workplace mediation with a number of other professional activities, as well as ‘stylistically eclectic’ in their practice. The thesis also shows that 3 out of 4 workplace mediators adopt a short-term focus on process which impacts the outcomes achieved. This short-term focus achieves outcomes primarily relevant to participants in mediation. Only 1 in 4 engage in practices that influence long-term organisational outcomes such as changes in working environments or capacity-building in conflict resolution skills.