What Do We Know About Mediators? A Short Literature Review.

18 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2014

See all articles by Barbara Wilson

Barbara Wilson


Charlie Irvine

University of Strathclyde – Law School

Date Written: October 14, 2014


This brief review focuses on the question of whether mediators may share a number of traits, or characteristics, and whether these are identifiable from the literature. Mediators are drawn from a number of disciplines and backgrounds, and do not constitute a unified cohort. This is reflected in the very varied and widely dispersed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) canon.

We find that the literature divides roughly between (a) empirical research and (b) narratives about practice and practitioners, and that the line between skills and traits is often blurred. We identify two main groupings of mediators: those who practise by virtue of their personal characteristics, discipline or profession of origin, and those whose recognised social standing, eldership or prestige within a given community qualify them to act as mediators. We also review some of the many debates and discourses at play in the field.

We find that a coherent account of mediators’ traits is still missing from the literature. This remains to be further explored, and we consider possible directions for future investigation.

Keywords: mediator, mediation, ADR, traits, characteristics, skills

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Barbara and Irvine, Charlie, What Do We Know About Mediators? A Short Literature Review. (October 14, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2510786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2510786

Charlie Irvine

University of Strathclyde – Law School ( email )

Graham Hills Building
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Glasgow, Scotland G1 1QE
United Kingdom
447779577019 (Phone)

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