November 06, 2008

Obama and the Future of the ADR Profession

Mediator Robert Benjamin offers reasons to hope that President-Elect Barack Obama will be a boon to the alternative dispute resolution field and a valuable endorsement of mediation:
  • Obama appears to think in a systemic frame, as opposed to a linear frame, and he operates from a more flexible protean perspective, un-tethered to any particular ideology or orthodoxy.
  • Obama’s personal history, being from a multi-racial and cultural background, offers him up as the embodiment of the ‘protean self’ suggested by Robert J. Lifton.
  • Obama’s leadership style offers a model for the highest quality of negotiation and mediation practice and invites emulation and application in other areas.
Benjamin concludes that professional conflict practitioners should prepare to capitalize on Obama's leadership and the example he sets. (


  1. Too bad we as a profession chose not to be more involved in this world changing event. There was a group on called Ombuds For Obama. And there should be some hope for an expanded role for conflict management of all types in an Obama lead government. But before anyone gets too excited you might like to look at: An article about what good news there is for lawyers in an Obama Presidency. In their view as well, the news is good.

  2. To be more prosaic:
    - Transparent
    - Inclusive
    - Reflective
    - Willing to talk
    Especially in comparison to the preceding administration's style.

  3. I watched a great session on C-Span last night that was a de-brief of the campaign reporters from Newsweek magazine. They responded to several questions about the two campaign. Nicholas Evans, Edit-in-chief made told the story of his observation of Obama's process for selecting his running mate. Evans described it as "inclusive", but "aloof". Defining "inclusive", He said that at Obama's campaign staff meetings, no one got to sit along the wall and not particpate; in fact, Obama would seek you out and ask questions, describing it as Socratic. And yet, Evans noted that Eric Holder, head of the Veep search committee, really didn't have a good idea until the last minute of Obama's choice of Biden--Evans citing that as Obama keeping his cards close to his chest.

  4. I really have a hard time calling a president-elect "inclusive" when he is not appointing women to his top advisor spots and apparently could not find a single democratic female VP candidate?!