Effective dispute resolution has for long been only affordable for the happy few, the elite. And to this date, available mechanisms do still not reach the millions who need it. Do we need to rethink our strategy? How?
‘Collective intelligence’ may be part of the answer. After all, approaching an issue from multiple perspectives seems to be the common denominator amongst today’s most successful initiatives.
No longer is it the crowd that is stupid. Those that do not engage and tap into the wisdom of the crowd are. Community-building has become key to the core of organization’s right of existence. One needs to be relevant today.
Tapping into the collective intelligence of communities has become general practice, and is no longer the exception to the rule. Think for instance on the creation of a world-class operating system (GNU/Linux) – it was built by thousands of part-time programmers, from all over the world. Or think of wikipedia, that became the most used encyclopedia in the world, thanks to its unpaid contributors. Who expected such warm-hearted dedication and results ten years ago?
Perhaps, by stretching the ‘wikipedian’ principle (of involving the wisdom of the crowd) towards the social domain of conflict and mediation, could it be that every engaged world citizen can actually contribute to the resolution of disputes around the world? And if so, what does this mean?
With the success of eBay on the rise in past years, it saw itself confronted with millions of claims a year. How to handle them without hiring thousands of people? The idea to harness the collective intelligence with access to dispute resolution mechanisms was soon embraced for exploration.
In 2008, the eBay’s Community Court was launched. It would enable the members of its community to appeal to non-positive feedback (they believe are unfair or unjustified). Upon the final decision of the jury, the verdict is enforced by an eBay Customer Service Representative. This person, if appropriate, removes the unrightful feedback. And so is the conflict resolved after all.
As the community has grown and reliable members have been identified by eBay, the operations of the Community Court have been stopped. Yet, pioneering initiatives like these do definitely shine a light into what the future will bring – a new era of dispute resolution. Are you prepared?
Daniel Dimov (PhD student at the Leiden University) co-authored this article with Oscar Westra van Holthe (co-founder ModelMinds), who can be contacted at +31(0)624643336 or at .