Third parties and grievances: Can we fix it? Yes we can – sometimes
Grievances attract much public controversy yet the amount of research evidence is limited. This study used a real-time approach, following a set of grievance cases as they proceeded through mediation. While the public debate has focused largely on the actions of employers and employees, our findings highlight the influential role of third parties in either escalating disputes or achieving resolution. The nature of that influence is determined by three critical attributes of the party in terms of their own relationships, concern for preserving relationships, and competency in dispute handling. While these attributes are largely related to individuals rather than roles, unions have unique potential for functioning as relationship managers and preserving employment relationships. The decline of unions however heightens the needs for organisations to seek other improved ways of dispute handling.