The Difference Between Conflicts and Disputes

Most people probably do not recognize a distinct difference between the terms “conflict” and “dispute.” However, many conflict scholars do draw a distinction between the two terms. As is unfortunately common in this field, different scholars define the terms in different ways, leading to confusion.

Competitive and Cooperative Approaches to Conflict

When individuals or parties enter into a negotiation process to resolve conflict, they will bring a certain orientation to the table in their effort to settle the conflict. The two most basic orientations people adhere to when entering into negotiations are cooperative or competitive.

Settlement, Resolution, Management, and Transformation: An Explanation of Terms

Disputes are generally considered to be disagreements that involve negotiable interests. Such issues can be settled through negotiation, mediation, or adjudication. They are generally short-term and, given the right process, lend themselves to the development of mutually satisfactory solutions.

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