Resolving Small Business Disputes Through Mediation


  • Marc Lampe University of San Diego
  • Seth R. Ellis University of San Diego


A revolution is taking place  in the way Americans resolve their disputes. The so-called alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration are increasingly becoming a primary choice for settling  conflict. A growing number of large American companies have begun to embrace mediation as an alternative to litigation. The article describes  the  mediation  process  in  the  small  business  context.  The  advantages   and disadvantages of mediation versus the judicial process are considered. Recommendations concerning the appropriate circumstances in which small business should use mediation to resolve conflict are provided. Also reported are the results of a survey of small business executives that measured their attitudes toward mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. The results suggest that most executives preferred mediation to other forms of dispute resolution. They believe mediation to be a cost-effective and efficient method of resolving conflicts with customers, employees, and suppliers.


Download data is not yet available.


American Arbitration Association. ( 1992). A guide to mediation l'or busi ness people. New York.

Burger. W. E. ( 1 985). Using arbitration to achieve justice. Arbitration Journal 40 3-6.

Conti, A. J. ( 1985). Mediation of work-place disputes: a prescription fur organizational health. Employee Relations Law Journal. 1 1 , 291 -310.

Davis, A. M. ( 1 989). The logic behind the magic of mediation. Negotiation Journal. 5, 1 7-24.

Dillon, W. R., T. J . Madden, and N. H. Fi rile. ( 1994) Markeking Research I n A Marketing Environment. Third Edition. Burr Ridge. IL: Irwin.

Folberg, J. and Tay lor, A. ( 1 984). Mediat ion: A Cotnprchcnsi vc Gui de to Resolving Conflicts Without Litigation. San Francisco: Josscy-Bass.

Harlan, C. ( 1988, Oc1ober 6). Lawyers fi nd ii di flicu h 10 break up partnerships. Wall Sreet Journal, pp. B I, B 7.

Jacobs, D. L. ( 1 992). Keeping it out of court. Small Business Reports 17, 28-39.

Lampe, M. ( 1991 ). San Diego 111cdiation center- a valuable resource for the legal community. Dicla, 38, I 1 -1 3.

Lampe, M . ( 1992). Mediation- an alternative to litigation and the judicial process. Business Ethics Review I,7 .

Lovcnhci m, P. ( 1 989). Mediate, Don't Litigate. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Malz, D. E. ( 1 987). Why disputes don't go 10 mediation. Mediation Quarlerly, 1 7, 3-9.

McCoy, T. R. ( 1992). The whys and ways of media1i on. Business Law Today, 2, 22-26.

McEwen, C. A. and Mai1nan, R . J. ( 1 98 1 ). Small claims mediation in Maine: an empirical assessment. Maine Law Review. 33. 237-268.

Pearson, J. ( 1 982). An evaluat ion or alternatives to court adjudication. Justice System Journal, 7 420-444.

Pearson, J., and Thoennes, N. ( 1 984). Mediating and litigating custody disputes: a longitudinal evaluation. Family Law Quarterly. 4, 497-524.

Pearson, J.. and Thoennes, N. ( 1 985). Divorce mediation: overview of research results. Columbia Journal of Law and Socia l Prohl en1s. 1 9. 45 I -4H4.

Pollock, E. J. ( 1 993, March 22). Med ial ion fi rms aher 1hc legal l andscape. Wa ll St reel Jou rnal pp. B 1 -B2.

Rehnqu isl, W. H. ( 1 989). 1 953-88: The chief justice looks back. Legal Reformer, 9, 3.

Riegel, Q. ( 1 993). New Esimales of the Cost of Legal Services. Washington D.C.: National Association of Manufacturers.

Sander, F .E. A. ( 1 985). Alternati ve tnctho

Sigler, J. C. ( 1 987). Med ial ion of grievances: an allerna1i ve IO arhil rali on'! Employee Rei al ions Law Jou rnal, 1 3, 266-286.

Solo1non. L. D. , and Solo1non, J. S. ( 1 987). Using alternati ve d ispute resol u tion techni ques to sett le con ll icts an1ong shareholders of closely hel d corporat ions. Wake Forest Law Revi ew, 22. I 05-1 26.

Solovc. R. L. ( 1 986). Ahcrnativc 1neans to resol ve corporate disputes: a survey. Co1n1nercial Law Jou rnal 91 1 33-140.

Speed record i n crash med ialions. ( 1 993). Arbitration Times , (Spring}, 3.

Wecksiei n, D. T. ( 1 988). The purposes of dispute resolution: comparative concepts of juslice. American Business Law Journal. 26. 605-624.




How to Cite

Lampe, M., & Ellis, S. R. (1995). Resolving Small Business Disputes Through Mediation. Journal of Small Business Strategy, 6(2), 85–96. Retrieved from