The systematic study and applied practice of conflict resolution is now a few decades old and is evolving into its own field and perhaps towards its own discipline (Avruch, 2013). I believe an essential way forward towards a more robust field and discipline is to build a parsimonious contingency approach. That is, an approach for applying our best theoretical and analytical tools to diagnosing the nature and status of a given conflict and then systematically and adaptively matching up the best methods for constructively engaging the conflict as it evolves. Fisher and Keashly (1991) pioneered contingency theory in international conflict resolution, while Sander and Goldberg suggested “fitting the forum to the fuss” in domestic ADR a few years later (1994). Since then the notion has caught on and is now somewhat in “vogue” (Fisher, 2012). However, surprisingly little development has occurred in this arena given the promise it holds. The contingency model described in this article builds on this early theorizing and suggests different conflict intervention methods according to conflict type and stage of development. Conflicts are divided into three different types: resource-based, objectives-based and identity-based. Each type is conducive to a different mode of engagement.

Author Bio(s)

Jay Rothman is Associate Professor in The Program on Conflict Management, Resolution and Negotiation, at Bar-Ilan University. Correspondence should be addressed to Jay Rothman, The Program on Conflict Management, Resolution and Negotiation, at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Contact: Jay.Rothman@biu.ac.il Tel. +972-55-661-1958.


conflict engagement, conflict resolution, contingency model, identity-based conflict, objective-based conflict, resource-based conflict

Publication Date






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.