The Effectiveness of Using Mediation in Selected Civil Law Disputes: A Meta-Analysis
The results of this meta-analysis represent an accumulation of the knowledge from more than 26 studies dealing directly with mediation programs. Although the sample was too small to differentiate between types of mediation programs, the overall summary of the reported findings of studies and evaluations of mediation programs demonstrates definite positive benefits in using mediation.
Overall, mediation processes are fairly effective in creating both time savings and costs savings. The meta-analysis shows that mediation results in improvements of at least 16% or 17% to perceptions of time and cost savings, which is supported by documented savings in the areas of time and cost. Depending on the characteristics of the mediation program, these improvements could be at least 40%, but are more likely in the range of around 30%.
In addition, the meta-analysis shows that mediation results in improvements of at least between 3% and 6% to perceptions of fairness and satisfaction. Thus, mediation processes clearly result in marginal, but definite, improvements in perceptions of fairness and satisfaction. Depending on the characteristics of the mediation program, these improvements could be into the 15% to 25% range, but are more likely to be in the range of 10% to 15%.
There are several avenues of research that could be explored in the future, which might improve upon the research method utilized in this meta-analysis or expand upon these findings.
In the present meta-analysis a number of studies arrived too late to include in the analysis (such as Schultz 1990 and Herman 1993). Additionally, the bibliographies of other studies that arrived late in the research process could not be adequately explored in the time remaining to us. The research also found that identifying studies designed with a pre-post comparative sample were very hard to identify through abstracts and the titles of reports. Therefore, future collection of studies for a meta-analysis may need to proceed from a qualitative omnibus literature review, in order to identify studies that are not well-abstracted or identified in library holdings.
Although French search terms were utilized and French speakers contacted for possible leads, very few French studies were collected for review and none of these met the study criteria for inclusion in this meta-analysis. This may be the result of a number of factors, including English and French literatures that do not overlap, differences in legal and regulatory regimes and the associated terminology. In future research, a more extensive qualitative review of French alternative dispute resolution terminology might develop strategies to better search for relevant quantitative literature.
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