February 01, 2008

Persistent Complaints to Ombuds Offices

Kiwi mediator Geoff Sharp (who writes the popular blog "mediator blah...blah...") recently forwarded a paper by Professor John McMillan, the Commonwealth Ombudsman for Australia. The paper, "Persistent Complaints to Ombudsman Offices" was presented at the 2006 National Administrative Law Forum in Australia in June 2006. The work of classical ombuds in Austrialia differs fundamentally from that of organizational ombuds. Nonetheless, ombuds of all types spend a disproportionate amount of time working with querulent visitors.

Professor McMillan identifies five different causes of problem behavior: unreasonable persistence, unreasonable demands, unreasonable lack of cooperation, unreasonable arguments, and unreasonable behavior. He urges that ombuds offices implement flexible strategies to deal effectively with unreasonable visitor conduct and retain control over the ombuds process. (
AIAL 2006 Administrative Law Forum Papers.)

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