The ombuds professional is an impartial dispute resolution practitioner whose function is to provide confidential assistance to parties within the host organization or community. The ombudsman acts as counselor, go-between, informal fact-finder, or upward feedback provider in the service of the common good.
Often, ombudspeople also act as mediators. They are called into situations where there is conflict, and serve as a neutral third party to help the adversaries reach a solution. Whether employed by a corporation, a health care institution, a university, or a government agency, the ombudsman's success depends upon both knowledge and skill — knowledge about conflict and how it may be resolved, and skill in applying that knowledge to cases as they arise.
We recommend that ombudspeople register for the Train-the-Professional (Track 3) option. Those whose duties involve training and development may consider becoming a Certified Trainer of Managing Workplace Conflict by registering for the Train-the-Trainer (Track 1) option.
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The Role of the Ombuds in Conflict Management
Edited by Melissa Zarda. See other bibliographies.
Contributor: Kathleen Gillihan, Meredith Webster, Esra Alagoz
Copyright restriction: The contents of this bibliography may not be placed on other websites, but links from other websites may be directed to this page. Hardcopies of this page may be printed for academic purposes.
- Anderson, Stanley. (1973). Comparing Classical and Executive Ombudsmen.
Stanley Anderson offers a comparative look at the basic differences in the roles of a Classical and Executive Ombudsman. More specifically, the categories of accessibility, independence and impartiality, durability, and reasoned persuasion in the intervention of conflict dispute are explored in depth among both classifications of Ombudsman models.
- Anderson, Stanley. (1993). Disaggregating the Ombudsman: Towards a Pure Theory of Conflict Resolution. California Caucus of College and University Ombudsman. UCI Ombudsman: The Journal 1993.
This article takes a look at the functions of the Ombudsman in conflict resolution management in correlation to Hans Kelsen's Pure Theory of Law. This pure (formal) overview compares three modes of conflict resolution, of which Ombudsman is one, in relation to governmental participation in dealing with conflict.
- Demirdjian, Z.S. (2002). The New Ombudsman Paradigm: An Olympian in an Orwellian World.
Comparing the modern-day Ombudsman's role to those of the gods “inhabiting Mount Olympus ,” this article suggests that one must share the same characteristics of these gods to be truly successful in conflict resolution. A new paradigm of Ombudsing, referred to as “The Two-Pronged Approach to Peace Sustainment,” is introduced and diagramed in detail. Tied into this proposed model are Reactive and Proactive processes which the author argues will result in viable interpersonal relations
- Metlzer, D. Leah. (1998). The Federal Workplace Ombuds. Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution (Volume 13:2, pp. 549-606.)
This executive summary is based upon the work of five independent federal agencies, and identifies areas in which these agencies have had the greatest impact with the establishment of workplace Ombuds enabling a positive and cost-effective influence on organizations and their human resources.
- Morris, Catherine. Definitions in the Field of Dispute Resolution and Conflict Transformation.
Ways of addressing, identifying and resolving conflicts are outlined in this descriptive commentary. Dispute processing methods such as negotiation, facilitation, arbitration, adjudication and Ombudsman processes are classified and described in basic detail. A comprehensive reference list is included.
- NIH Office of the Ombudsman (1999). Annual Report 1999. Retrieved from the Web August 6, 2005.
This report from the Office of the Ombudsman/The Center for Cooperative Resolution, is a comprehensive overview of this organization's past accomplishments and future directives in the field of dispute resolutions employing a variety of techniques such as mediation, coaching, consulting, and partnering agreements.
- Murphy, Kevin. (2001). Conflict and Accountability: The Citizen and the Ombudsman. Diploma in Conflict and Dispute Resolution Studies, Irish School of Ecumenics.
This article addresses the role of conflict mediation within the Office of the Ombudsman in Irish society. It provides insight into this dispute resolution mechanism which enables citizens to resolve their grievances in an independent, impartial and inexpensive fashion while protecting their human rights. The article illustrates how the Irish Office of the Ombudsman is recognized as one the principal mechanisms in the field of conflict resolution and administrative justice, and is acknowledged and replicated in other national Ombudsman Offices worldwide.
- Stewart, K. (Jan. - Feb., 1978). Reply to Judith W. Harvey on What a University Ombudsman Does. The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 49, No. 1., pp. 28-29.
In this two-page correspondence, the author argues that conflict resolution and conflict management are not equal to each other for ombudsman. While managing conflict involves controlling the behavior of conflicting parties in order to limit the intensity of conflict, resolving conflict aims to remove such behavior. It is also argued that they are not "mutually exclusive".
- University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA)
This document provides information on the Ombudsman function at the college and university level in handling conflicts. Fostering collaboration and exchange in the public and private sectors in dispute resolution is a key mission of this association
- Wagner, Dr. Marsha L. (1998). The Ombudsman's Roles in Changing the Conflict Resolution System in Institutions of Higher Education.
Focusing on the fundamental roles that may be executed by the Ombudsman in an academic organization, this article diagrams the many ways that organizational conflict resolution can be initiated and implemented in higher education. The Costantino-Merchant model of conflict management design is presented in a cyclical fashion as a means of promoting a productive and healthy environment.
- Wagner, M.L., (2000). The organizational ombudsman as a change agent, Negotiation Journal, 16, 99-114.
This article explores the role of an ombudsman in changing the way conflict is handled throughout an organization. Ombudsmen serve to educate constituents on the reasons for policies and procedures, which can create conflicts. They also may conduct negotiation training and are training employees how to manage conflicts when they meet with them individually. The ombudsman in an organization has a unique perspective of knowing and understanding an organization's culture. He or she has an appreciation for the types of conflict that occur most frequently and can help to prevent these conflicts by recommending system changes. Prevention of conflict is just as critical a component of a conflict management system in an organization as is reaching an agreement. The author states that an ombudsman also can point out when a conflict resolution system is inefficient or unfair and notify organizational leaders to propose changes.
- Wallace, Geoffrey. (1993). Institutional Conflict Work in Democratic Societies. California Caucus of College and University Ombudsman. UCI Ombudsman: The Journal 1993.
Exploring autocratic institutions existing in democratic societies, this article delves into the use of change agencies, including the utilization of Ombudsman in dispute systems creating avenues for social change for those individuals who may have experienced a disparity with corporate organizations and democratic institutions. The function of the Ombudsman, it is argued, is one of providing equity and fairness and brings about a balance of power to citizens in resolving conflict.
- Warters, Bill. (1995). Researching Campus Conflict Management Culture(s): A Role For Ombuds? California Caucus of College and University Ombudsman. UCI Ombudsman: The Journal 1995.
This article explores the notion of the Ombudsman as a Researcher when engaging in problem-solving efforts on college and university campuses. The dynamics of expanding the Ombuds' role as a Researcher by compiling bibliographies of existing conflict studies, developing dialogues on conflict with qualitative researchers, and strengthening ties between Ombuds and the increasing number of academics concerned with conflict are formally introduced.