The Research Teams

The research team is actually composed of two groups.  One is a faculty group who work mostly on workplace and court Alternative Dispute Resolution as well as program evaluation and process assessment.  The second group is composed of a mix of faculty, private conflict resolution practitioners, individuals from NGOs.  This group works on a variety of issues including but not limited to: school based conflict resolution programs, mediator competencies, mediation styles, “best practices” in environmental public policy disputes and cross-cultural conflict.

The research projects undertaken by our research staff serves a number of purposes that directly fulfill our mission to educate people about conflict resolution theory, processes, and programs. The Center's research also provides invaluable apprenticeship opportunities for students to work directly with faculty in the exploration and critical examination of both theoretical and applied knowledge.

The Center for Conflict Resolution's research agenda covers both applied and basic research.  We make use  of quantitative and qualitative methods, quasi-experimental methods, and gaming experiments within controlled laboratory simulation settings.

Links to Presentations

Applied Research

Basic Research

Qualitative Research Studies

Recently Completed Research Projects

Student Field Studies


Research Staff

Director of Research and Evaluation: Dr. E. Patrick McDermott

E. Patrick McDermott Ph.D., LL.M., J.D., is an Associate Professor in Management/Legal Studies at the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. He also serves as the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Conflict Resolution at Salisbury. He has extensive litigation and negotiations experience gained from more than a decade as a labor and employment law attorney.

Pat was the primary researcher on three studies of the Equal Employment Opportunity mediation program and an evaluation of the Pilot Mediation Program for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  He has either authored or co-authored numerous journal articles and has co-authored a book on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve workplace disputes.  His most recent publication, on the relationship of mediator style to party satisfaction and monetary benefit can be found in the Spring 2004 edition of the Harvard Negotiation Law Journal.

Senior Research Fellow: Ruth Obar, Ph.D.

Ruth Obar, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Conflict Resolution at Salisbury University. A macroeconomist and statistician by training, her work experience and research interests encompass diverse topics in business in economics. She has conducted studies in monetary economics, international economics, regional economic impact, women and entrepreneurship, and marketing and advertising research. She is the statistician for the Center's Research Team that has conducted comprehensive evaluations of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Mediation Program and the State of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (CDFEH) Pilot Mediation Program.

Senior Research Fellow: Anita Jose, Ph.D.

Anita Jose, Ph.D., is an associate professor of management, and the Director of the MBA Program at Hood College. Her research interests include organizational strategy, international management, and business ethics/corporate social responsibility. Her articles have appeared in such publications as the Journal of Business Ethics, Southern Law Journal, Business Intelligence, and Advances in Industrial Relations Research. She is a member of several professional associations and regularly presents research papers at national and international management conferences. She is a research fellow at the Center for Conflict Resolution.  She has consulted with organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment. She received her doctorate from the University of North Texas and her MBA and MMGT from the University of Dallas.

Associate Director of Research: Brian Polkinghorn, Ph.D.

Brian Polkinghorn, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution and Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) at Salisbury University. Brian is the primary investigator for our court based research as well as for the graduate school evaluation project. He is the author of numerous research articles pertaining to environmental conflict.  His primary interests are in the areas concerning environmental issues, program development, employment and community conflict. Previously, Brian was an Associate Professor in the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (DCAR) at Nova Southeastern University and is a graduate of the George Mason ICAR and Syracuse PARC programs. 

Senior Research Fellow: Vasilikie (Vicky) Demos, Ph.D.

Vasilikie (Vicky) Demos, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at the Center for Conflict Resolution at Salisbury University and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Morris is co-editor of Advances in Gender Research., and a former president of the North Central Sociological Association, and Sociologists for Women in Society.  She has published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, Sociological Focus, and Gerontology.  In 1991-1992, she served as Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Officer at the University of Minnesota, Morris.  She is a graduate of Towson State College, the University of Toledo, and the University of Notre Dame.


Recently Completed Research Projects

Click on the titles to view the Studies of the Mediation Program (.PDF):

  1. Maryland SHA Partnering: An Analysis of the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration's Partnering Program and Process (2007)
     

  2. A Best Practices Manual for Partnering: Based on an Analysis of the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration's Partnering Program and Process (2007)
     

  3. An Evaluation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Mediation Program
     

  4. The EEOC Mediation Program : Mediators' Perspective on the Parties, Processes, and Outcomes
     

  5. An Investigation of the Reasons for the Lack of Employer Participation in the EEOC Mediation Program
     

  6. An Evaluation of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Pilot Mediation Program
     

  7. An evaluation of the Florida Bar grievance mediation program
     

  8. A comprehensive analysis of 84 graduate conflict resolution programs in the United States


Applied Research

The Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO), the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the State of California have provided grants and contracts to conduct applied research by evaluating and assessing court based and workplace alternative dispute resolution programs and processes.

Our current research agenda includes an in depth study of the evolution and development of alternative dispute resolution programs throughout the Maryland court system.  Included in this study is a path analysis of the various processes participants’ may choose to use within the court system to settle or resolve their cases.   The major focus of the study is on the internal dynamics of various ADR processes.  A secondary emphasis of the study will be to why parties and courts often go to specific mediators for high profile, complex or controversial cases.

Under a Hewlett grant, the Center for Conflict Resolution is sponsoring research by Dr. Lorig Charkoudian that examines the situational conduct of mediators in live mediation sessions.

The Center is also conducting research with Dr. Lorig Charkoudian and Dr. Cristian DeRitis on mediators' perceptions of the process.  Using (inductive) cluster analysis we are examining mediators' responses to what they think and do in the mediation process.

The Center is currently conducting a major needs assessment of local clergy using focus groups (n=40) and survey research (n=+50).  The focus is to understand the sources of conflict, how clergy respond to them as well as to assess how well prepared they are prepared to do so.  Some of the types of conflict or challenges clergy report that they  face on the job includes conflicts with: lay leaders, the congregation, other clergy, people within a denominational hierarchy.  They experience conflict over issues such as: clergy roles and responsibilities, finances, liturgy, outreach programs, endowments, worship styles, major national issues that play out in factionalism within the local church,  using the pulpit for political reasons, intergenerational conflict, issues surrounding a growing or shrinking congregation, the type of church certain factions want to maintain or change into (family, program, mission, corporate) and many more critical issues.

Basic Research

The basic research agenda is seen in our international projects that examine contextual conditions that exacerbate or mitigate conflict.  We have conducted research on how violent social conflict and war conflict directly impact participants’ self reported conflict engagement styles in South Africa, Israel, the West Bank, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.

Dr. Thomas Boudreau (American University) and Dr. Brian Polkinghorn are engaged in novel theoretical development and testing of “conflict typologies” that feeds into  “multiplex methodologies” that will provide new frameworks for theory development and conflict analysis.  Tom and Brian have also published a few case studies using an "identity affirmation" model of conflict reduction.

Qualitative Research Studies

Dr. Jean Marie Pinto (Nova Southeastern University) and Dr. Brian Polkinghorn are conducting an extensive examination of the impact of the negotiated rulemaking process on the US Environmental Protection Agency in its ability to work with contentious parties in the development of regulations.

Dr. Judith McKay (Director of DCAR at Nova Southeastern University) and Dr. Brian Polkinghorn are conducting an extensive examination of field based experiential learning tracks in graduate Conflict Resolution programs.

One of the more enjoyable research project being conducted by Center Staff involves conducting face-to-face personal interviews with leading world figures in regard to their involvement in domestic and international conflicts.  For this project we personally interviewed influential members of the international community such as: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Shimon Peres, Arun Gandhi, Giandominico Picco, and Terry Waite, as well as various Presidents, Secretaries of State, United States Senators and members of various national parliaments.   


Student Field Studies

Students, through their practicum experience in the Conflict Analysis Dispute Resolution program at Salisbury University have also conducted research with the institutional support of the Center for Conflict Resolution.  The following are some examples of the research that has been conducted by our promising students:

  • “The impact of 4 to 2 housing changes on the relationship between university students and local residents” – Michael Lowe

  • “A Walking Tour of the Troubles in Ireland” – Gregory Cooper

  • “Participant Observation in Blood Feud Mediation in Kosovo” – Trent Jennings

  • “While I was Down Under – Visiting Graduate CR Programs in Australia” – Jayme Manelli

  • “A First Hand Exploration of Graduate CR Programs in England” – Kristen John

Center Publications & Reports

Click here for a list of the Center's publications and reports (.PDF).
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Links to Presentations

Examining the Future Shape of Graduate Conflict Resolution Programs in English Speaking Countries"© (all rights reserved) slideshow as presented at Annual Conference of the Associate of Conflict Resolution on October 26, 2006, was presented and created by Dr. Brian Polkinghorn, Robert La Chance and Haleigh La Chance. (Do not cite without permission of authors).

"Making the Most of Conflict" slideshow as presented to the State of Maryland Division of Parole and Probation on May 5, 2005, was presented and created by Dr. Brian Polkinghorn:

At the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association, March 21, 2003, in San Antonio, TX, members of the Center for Conflict Resolution's Research Team gave a presentation entitled:

At the American Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Meeting, April 5, 2002, in Seattle, Washington, members of the Center for Conflict Resolutions Research Team gave a presentation entitled:

At the Association for Conflict Resolution's 2002 Annual Conference, held in San Diego, California, members of the Center for Conflict Resolutions Research Team gave a presentation entitled:

At the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Conference, April 28, 2001, held in Washington DC, members of the Center for Conflict Resolutions Research Team gave a presentation entitled:

Conference Presentations

Click here for a list of the Center for Conflict Resolution's conference presentations from 2000-2004.
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  © Polkinghorn and La Chance, 2007