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The Potential Contribution of Training to Resolving International Conflict

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This concluding article summarizes and comments on the training cases in terms of the identity of the participants, the stated objectives, the claimed outcomes, the issues addressed and the methods of evaluation. The cases address a range of internal conflicts with international ramifications at various stages of expression from ongoing difficulties, to stalemate, to settlement. There is considerable variety in the scope and focus of objectives, from changing the culture of conflict of a society to shifting the norms of negotiation from adversarial to cooperative. The overall theme is that training interventions can increase the participants' capacity for problem solving and conflict management in ways that support the ultimate resolution of their conflict. The analysis of the issues addressed in the cases shows a moderate level of concern on the part of this group of trainers, with some issues receiving more attention than others. The issue of cultural appropriateness is partly addressed by the cases, but a need is identified for more sophisticated attention through cultural analyses of an anthropological nature and through cross-cultural training for trainers themselves. The educational approach adopted in the cases is largely prescriptive within a collaborative orientation, thus demonstrating a need for more elicitive procedures. Maintaining the training focus and managing political intrusions were issues not commented on frequently in the cases, and yet they are concerns of continuing importance. The issue of succession appears to be well handled in this sample of interventions, with lead trainers being sensitive to developing apprentices who can function independently at the point of program termination. Evaluation is addressed in all the cases, but the depth and scope of such efforts varies considerably, thus demonstrating that the evaluation agenda requires greater investment by the field. Similarly, the question of transfer is raised in most cases, but is addressed in very different ways depending largely on the identity of the participants. Concluding comments provide a general assessment of the cases, and raise questions intended to direct the practice of training as interactive conflict resolution toward continued professional development.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5A5


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