“Me Too should become WeToo”: Using collaborative practices to prevent disputes within NZ businesses

Kate was a finalist in the 2018 FairWay Resolution Anne Scragg Scholarship with this article.

“MeToo must become WeToo”. As PM Ardern has recently represented New Zealand’s worldview of how to solve global issues by emphasising collaboration, it is timely to explore how collaborative practices may be more effectively used in business here. The earlier conflicts are resolved, the better for everyone; however the challenge lies in how to do that. This article considers how collaborative practices may be used as an early intervention tool to prevent disagreements from escalating into business disputes embroiled in litigation.

Collaboration is integral to Kiwi businesses. For example, it is infused in tikanga Māori so it will become more prevalent as Māori businesses grow. International gurus have long touted collaboration as key to improving business culture and innovation. Yet, although collaboration is critical to survive in New Zealand’s small economy, it is often overlooked and underused in business models. The same may be said for collaborative practices in dispute resolution.

Resolving conflicts need not be competitive zero-sum games like stand-offs between Trump and Kim Jongun. If solutions are reached through compromise alone, the tone is set for ongoing relationships and conflicts are likely to recur. To get past entrenched positions, people should satisfy their underlying interests. If parties work together with genuine concern for each other, collaboration will preserve and enhance their relationships.

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