Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Neil H. Katz

Second Advisor

Dustin Berna

Third Advisor

Linda Tara Flynn


appropriate or alternative dispute resolution, conflict analysis and resolution, ombuds, organization development, systemic change management, tangible and intangible benefits


Navigating the human side of workplace conflict poses challenges. A gap in knowledgeexists within an alternative dispute resolution option known as the organizational ombuds. Prior research referenced the ombuds' perception of his/her own role and functionality yet did not explore ombuds in differing organizational sectors. The research I explored was: What are the similarities and differences among and between ombuds in employment environments of higher education, the public or private sector, and the federal government? To address this question, I presented comprehensive case study profiles on a total of 8 organizations: 3 in higher education, 3 in the federal government, and 2 in the private sector, then analyzed their similarities and differences. Findings from my research support the view that ombuds in the 3 sectors all organized their role and function according to the International Ombuds Association’s principles, which specifically addressed the core competencies of confidentiality, impartiality, independence, and informality. Ombuds assisted internal constituents as they follow resolution pathways of their choosing. The 8 organizations, mentioned solely as the “8” going forward, also had distinct differences developed organically and pragmatically to fit the needs of their unique organization. My research found ombuds assisted organizations to achieve their vision and mission by identifying trends, addressing workplace issues, facilitating dialogue, conducting systemic reviews, and implementing changes to empower and engage constituents while strengthening the financial bottom line. Serving at the discretion of leadership, the “8” contributed tangible and intangible value that enhanced the quality of work life for all employees.