Date of Submission

Summer 7-25-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)

Chair/Co-chair

Dr. Timothy Hedeen

Committee Member

Dr. Susan Raines

Committee Member

Dr. John Lande

Abstract

In the past few decades, many courts in U.S. implemented mediation programs to offer disputing parties a cost-effective alternative to litigation and reduce the caseload of overcrowded courts, and such programs gained the global community's interest. This qualitative research study sheds lights on the institutional work needed to maintain court-connected mediation program. Its main assumption is that court-connected mediation programs, like many other institutions, are not self-reproducing institutions. Supportive activities are always required to maintain institutions over time. Through the lens of the institutional work scholarship, this study collects and analyzes data from thirty-two semi-structured interviews of court-connected mediation program directors working for superior courts in Georgia and local lawyers representing clients on a regular basis in local court-connected mediation programs.

Findings highlight that, besides the important institutional maintenance work of enforcement and monitoring, the need for other institutional maintenance works emerge. Embedding and routinizing activities such as education of parties and lawyers was the primary institutional work which program directors referred to in order to address the challenges of unprepared and uncooperative parties. Such educational activities often implied the need for changing normative associations of key organization actors such as lawyers. Additionally, this research highlighted how constructing normative networks can help courts to normatively sanction lawyers’ lack of substantial compliance. Finally, relational work emerged as an important work that program directors sometimes mentioned to advance the program's institutional goals. Implications for existing and future research and practice are discussed.

Available for download on Friday, July 24, 2026

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