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Why the “Haves” Do Not Necessarily Come Out Ahead in Informal Dispute Resolution

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This article explores the implications of Galanter's distinction between repeat and one-off players to informal dispute resolution settings. Relying on quantitative and qualitative data regarding one British “private-Ombudsman” scheme, the article analyzes the extent to which complaint handlers' decision making advantaged more experienced and better resourced firms and/or high-status and more assertive complainants. The article's tentative theoretical proposition is that the typically indeterminate nature of informal dispute resolution settings renders them less susceptible to large organizations' and other repeat players' capacity to “play for rules.” Yet, this indeterminacy makes such processes more vulnerable to decision makers' reliance on heuristics.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-07-01

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