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Electronically-Mediated Dispute Resolution and E-Commerce

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Negotiation Journal

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Although the volume of internet commerce continues to increase, some consumers hesitate to conduct business transactions on the internet because of concerns about the trustworthiness of on-line merchants. The presence of readily available, on-line dispute resolution services can send a reassuring signal to consumers that allays their fears and encourages them to do business on-line. However, on-line dispute resolution systems designed to address disputes arising from e-commerce transactions rely on a communication medium that is impoverished, which can lead to lower trust in the process, and to the escalation of negative emotion and negative attributions about the other participants in the dispute resolution process, making successful resolution of the dispute more difficult. A mediator or arbitrator in an on-line setting who is aware of these potential problems can try to avert them by engaging in simple rapport-building procedures. However, facilitating acceptance of on-line dispute resolution decisions may be more difficult than in a traditional face-to-face environment because of the absence of cues that communicate the trustworthiness and neutrality of the third party, as well as acknowledgment of the societal standing of the disputant.

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Nadler, J. Electronically-Mediated Dispute Resolution and E-Commerce. Negotiation Journal 17, 333–347 (2001).

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