What Is the Advantage of Mediation?

Business Leader Post, October 25, 2012

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

I read an article recently discussing a hesitancy to use mediation in family business disputes because the emotional issues underlying the differences can render the mediation unsuccessful. On the contrary: The presence of emotional issues is precisely why mediation is an important vehicle in solving family business disputes. Emotional issues can drive the process right across the lines of reason into the legal system in the form of litigation.

The issue is not whether mediation is useful in family business setting—it is the skill set of the advisor that makes the critical difference. A clinically trained advisor with extensive experience in family business can help the family and/or the professionals working with the family identify the underlying source of the conflict, which can be decades old. Effective mediation can take the heat out of the argument so that cooler heads can prevail and reasonable solutions can be agreed upon.

Identifying the true source of the issue can enlighten the participants and reduce the drive for “revenge”. The mediation process can then carefully and diligently move the family forward, helping them come to an agreement without the emotional and financial expense of litigation.