Types of ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a collection of processes used for the purpose of resolving conflict or disputes informally and confidentially. The primary process used at CDC is Mediation, but there are several other types including the following: Neutral Fact- Finding, Facilitation, Conciliation, and Early Intervention.

Neutral Fact-Finding

Neutral fact-finding involves the use of a neutral third party who investigates/determines a disputed fact. This process is usually used for technical issues or in instances when significant factual issues are part of a larger dispute. Parties may negotiate to be bound or not bound by the fact-finding results.


Facilitation is a group process which is goal-oriented. The facilitator directs traffic, elicits views, clarifies, records significant data but is usually not involved in substantive issues. The facilitator is frequently seen as a “shadow leader.” The task is to stay in the background with little direct involvement in activities, but to see that the right things happen. The facilitator’s task is not to try to keep mistakes from being made, but, if possible, the facilitator should help the team avoid outright disaster. In this role, the facilitator may at times be a teacher, counselor, mediator, a support-seeker for the team, a resource finder, and at times simply a housekeeper – making sure that the immediate environment does not distract from the successful operation of the team.

In none of the roles, should the facilitator dominate the operation. Success should be measured largely by the degree to which teams function effectively, while they remain as independent as possible and do not require facilitator direct involvement to succeed.

Perhaps the most important task for the facilitator is to facilitate communication in a manner that will help teams grow and mature to the point where they are largely self-facilitating and need to call for assistance only in emergency situations.


Conciliation is a relatively informal and unstructured process. During the conciliation process, neutrality and confidentiality are not usually guaranteed as the intervener is acting as an intermediary to promote improved communication and working relationships. Conciliation often is a “cooling off” forum where the conciliator may offer advice, perspectives and suggestions to deescalate a conflict.

Early Intervention

It is expected that conflict will arise between and among employees, their supervisors, and/or managers. However, unresolved conflicts can reduce the ability to get work done. Therefore, CDC/ATSDR provides an avenue for the reduction of conflict in the workplace through the use of early intervention techniques including facilitated individual or group meetings, conciliation meetings, informal fact-finding or mediation.

Addressing conflict in the work place at an early stage increases the probability that the conflict will be successfully resolved.

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Page last reviewed: October 18, 2010