Research Data

There is a serious deficiency of reliable data on the use of mediation, both nationally in most countries, and internationally.

The most instructive reliable data publicly available in recent years are:

  • A 2003/06 study by the American Arbitration Association of 254 US companies, supplemented in 2012/13 by a similar study in France in association with FIDAL. 
  • A 1997/98 survey led by Cornell University of the in-house counsel of 606 Fortune 1,000 companies, updated by a 2011 survey of 368 US-based in-house counsel led by Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and Cornell University’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

These studies demonstrated quite convincingly that, at least in the US, there was a growing appetite for mediation among corporate counsel, with the more mediation-experienced companies (those described in the AAA survey as the most “Dispute-Wise”) actively engaged is dispute avoidance programs and experiencing higher price-earnings ratios than non-Dispute-Wise companies.

The 2011 survey by Pepperdine/Cornell indicated that many large US companies are using binding arbitration less often and instead relying more on mediated negotiation and other approaches aimed at resolving disputes informally, quickly and inexpensively. Pepperdine Professor Thomas J. Stipanowich noted the emergence of a “quiet revolution” in US dispute resolution in which corporate counsel, driven by cost and risk reduction strategies, are playing an increasingly directive role on how disputes are managed and resolved. A common theme from the survey results was a desire for optimal control of the dispute resolution process, with in-house counsel preferring to manage outcomes, so mediation and other approaches that aim at achieving a mutually acceptable settlement are strongly favoured. 

However, neither of these surveys gave truly international impressions, and neither asked a number of key questions that would determine and underpin the the Vision and Mission that IMI had adopted. Accordingly, in January 2013, IMI sent out a survey to in-house dispute resolution counsel in 124 multinational corporations, based mainly in Europe and North America, designed to surface user attitudes and approaches to arbitration and mediation. The Survey ran from mid-January to mid-March 2013. This seems to have been the first time that in-house dispute resolution counsel had been asked for their views on many of the issues raised at an international scale. Seventy-six in-house dispute resolution counsel completed the Survey.

The IMI Survey addressed issues not covered in the previous user surveys. The IMI Survey focused more on in-house counsel needs, attitudes and preferences regarding issues concerning information, professional quality standards and the skills they expect from their arbitrators, mediators and outside counsel.  

Most responders were either senior in-house legal counsel (63%) or members of senior management (20%) in their companies, with 17% indicating they were engaged in other corporate roles. 71% of responders were from corporations with over 10,000 employees, and 18% were employed by companies having between 1,000 and 10,000 employees.

The IMI Survey, like most other surveys, was based on multi-choice answers to a range of propositions, principally to enable the Survey to be completed relatively quickly.  Many of the questions referred collectively to “Neutrals” which the Survey’s preamble defined as meaning both arbitrators and mediators.

Result highlights

All mediators should belong to a professional body with a code of conduct and disciplinary process76%
Mediators should seek feedback from users, and make that feedback openly available to future users77%
Outside counsel should be trained in mediation advocacy skills80%

Corporate counsel ‘Top 6 Criteria’ when appointing a media

Experience as a mediator99%
Past user experience with a particular mediator97%
Mediator's personality and attitude93%
Independently-verified feedback from users88%
Expertise in the core issue of the case85%
Evidence the mediator's competence was independently assessed83%

All Neutrals should seek feedback from users and make that feedback openly available to future users (in summary format, prepared by an independent person or institution while preserving the anonymity of the feedback giver).


These results strongly indicate that IMI’s Mission reflects corporate user needs and, by extension, the needs of other disputants.