1. Q: What is online dispute resolution (ODR)?
A: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a general term covering a variety of approaches to dispute resolution that all share one common element -- the use of technology to assist the dispute resolution process.
On one end of the spectrum there are ODR programs that "automate" resolutions, such as the ones in use in the real estate industry to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers.
On the other end are ODR programs that simply use computers to make brainstorming or decision making quicker, or allow parties to work on ideas or documents without having to meet face to face for the entire process.
The NMB's ODR program stresses a non-intrusive approach, designed to improve or assist with grievance mediation, negotiation, and problem solving without changing the nature of the relationships among the parties.
The NMB uses ODR software hosted on a web site accessible from any computer with a web browser.
2. Q: Is the information on the NMB ODR web server secure?
A: Yes. The system is isolated on its own server and is controlled by an NMB facilitator.
3. Q: Do we always have to schedule an NMB facilitator to work with us?
A: Yes. The NMB facilitator may never have to be on site with either party, but an NMB facilitator must be engaged as the "group facilitator," whether there are two parties involved or an organization or company is using the ODR system for internal problem solving. The NMB facilitator controls passwords, distribution of information, and other administrative functions. The NMB facilitator may also, if appropriate, work with single parties or with union/management groups in face-to-face settings.
4. Q: What if we have needs that do not fit the norm for the NMB ODR program?
A: The National Mediation Board has taken steps to ensure that the latest computer technology is at the disposal of its mediators as they conduct training and negotiations in the airline and railroad industries. The NMB's ODR program is not offered in place of face to face meetings, nor is it intended to take control of the dispute resolution process away from the parties.
Essentially, there are no "norms" for the NMB ODR program. The NMB facilitator will work with the parties to design a use for the ODR system that is appropriate for their work, and that fits comfortably into the decision making and problem solving environment in which the parties wish to work.
Just give us a call and we'll work with you to see if there is a way to use ODR that is acceptable to all parties concerned.